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Guide to copyright for A&T communities

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 Copyright protects both published and unpublished works.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:

  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.  


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 [1] 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.



Additional Resources

  • Code of Best Practices in Fair Use in Media Literacy Education
    Intended to help educators using media literacy concepts and techniques interpret the copyright doctrine of fair use. From Clemson University.
  • Guidelines for Educational Uses of Music
    Helpful guidelines re-posted by the University of Washington.
  • A few courts have ruled on the question of whether works created by faculty members are works made for hire, and whether the policy at the college or university effectively resolves questions about copyright ownership. They leave unclear whether general university copyright policies are enforceable and whether a "teacher’s exception" to the doctrine actually exists.

Copyright In The News

Articles of Interest: