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Guide to copyright for A&T communities


The purpose of this guide is to cover aspects of copyright applicable to educational and scholarly activities.

Understanding copyright law is challenging and often times confusing.   It attempts to strike a balance between protecting the rights of authors/creators and the public's need for access to information and ideas.  Copyright issues are regularly encountered by both faculty and students at academic institutionsYou may wonder how this affects you.  

Our University is involved in the accessing, assessment, application, and sharing of information to create new interdisciplinary knowledge.   Many activities which contribute to new knowledge production are covered by copyright. For example:

  • showing a video in a face-to-face class

  • compiling readings for an online class

  • sharing with your colleagues a journal article you have written

  • performing a piece of music you have written

  • getting permission to use images for your dissertation

  • designing a multimedia work based on other works

  • determining who "owns" a course you have created

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.

This guide provides a framework for understanding and working with legal issues, including lawfully using and sharing the copyrighted works of others, as well as protecting creative works of our own. It is designed as a basic informational resource for the NCAT community. It is not a substitute for legal advice.   The video below will give you some basic details.  Enjoy!

Copyright on Campus

Join Jane, the campus librarian, as she provides a fun and informative overview of U.S. copyright law and its impact on colleges and universities.

Source: Copyrightclear. (2011). Copyright on Campus [Video]. Retrieved from

Public Domain Works are Easiest

A public domain work is a creative work that is not protected by copyright and
which may be freely used by everyone.  The reasons that the work is not protected include:

(1) the term of copyright for the work has expired;

(2) the author failed to satisfy statutory formalities to perfect the copyright; or

(3) the work is a work of the U.S. Government.