Copyright and Fair Use

Review this page to answer your copyright questions.

Copyright and Fair Use Guidelines

U. S. Copyright Law Section 106, Exclusive rights in copyrighted works (, grants specific rights to the copyright holder to:

  • reproduce (duplicate),
  • distribute,
  • display and
  • prepare derivative works.

Duplication of copyright materials may be allowed under fair use provisions of the U.S. copyright law (17 U.S.C.A. Section 107). It is the responsibility of the instructor making copies, placing copies on reserve, or posting documents to online course pages to consider whether the fair use exemption will allow the duplication of materials protected by copyright.

Two key guidelines to consider are the amount of the work copied and whether it is to be used repeatedly. For example, if a photocopy is to be placed on reserve for more than one semester, permission should be obtained. Also, duplication of several chapters of a book would generally not fall under the fair use exemption.

If in doubt, permission to copy should be requested from the publisher by e-mailing the publisher's permissions and copyright office. A reference librarian can assist you with locating publishers. The college also has an arrangement with the Copyright Clearance Center to obtain permissions on a per use basis. Full citation information is necessary to make a request via CCC.

Remember that reproduction of materials protected by copyright, including materials under the fair use exemption, must display the copyright notice and copyright date. Full source information should also be included on the duplicated material.

Music Copyright Issues

The SUNY Office of General Counsel advises SUNY campuses on obtaining content rights. Working with other organizations, the office created these documents to assist SUNY colleges with music copyright laws and rights:

Tales From the Public Domain: Digital Comic Book

Duke Law School created this entertaining 70+-page digital comic book about the public domain and copyright law. It illustrates fair use by using materials in the public domain.