General Copyright Information
What is copyright?
Copyright protection is grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law (codified at Title 17 of the United States Code) for original works of authorship from the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible medium of expression that is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. The copyright immediately becomes the property of the author who created the work. Only the author, or those deriving their rights through the author, can rightfully claim copyright. Copyright protects both published and unpublished works. Registration of the work is not required for your rights to exist; however, you do have to register to be able to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. work. Copyright issues are regularly encountered at academic institutions.
Copyright in the classroom generally falls under the "Fair Use" (Sect. 107) doctrine, but instructors should also be aware of copyright issues regarding reserves and the provision of copies of documents to students. The "Teach Act" (Sect. 110) is also of importance and should be consulted if you are interested in using materials to teach students at a distance. The additional sections of this guide will provide more detailed specifics about the operations of copyright in general.
The Copyright Act contains specific exceptions for the use of copyright-protected materials by academic institutions. These provisions include:
- Section 107 on fair use, which applies to activities such as the use of excerpts for illustration or comment; the unexpected and spontaneous reproduction of classroom materials, and the creation of parodies. See more information under the Fair Use tab of this Guide.
- Section 110 on the use of materials in an educational setting, which permits certain types of content use in the classroom and in distance education.
It is also applicable to libraries, especially in the areas of Interlibrary Loan/Document Delivery, Electronic Reserves, and Preservation (including digitization efforts). For example, users face copyright issues when they make photocopies of library material.
- Section 108 on reproduction by libraries and archives, which applies to activities such as archiving; replacing lost, damaged or obsolete copies; patron requests for entire works; and interlibrary loans.
- Section 109 on first sale, which permits the resale or lending of copies of works, providing the basis for library lending and the sale of used books.
As a constituent of the University of North Carolina System (UNC System), North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (A&T) operates under UNC System policies. The UNC Policy Manual: Section 500.2 - Patent and Copyright Policies  outlines criteria for guidance of the administrators, faculty, staff, and students of the UNC System component institutions concerning the development, use, ownership, management, and marketing of intellectual property.