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KSU Bookstore Copyright Information & FAQ

Let's be honest wading through the mountains of legal jargon regarding copyright law can be incredibly challenging. It has been described as fumbling through a heavy fog.

The KSU Bookstore has developed the following FAQ's that may shed some light on this incredibly complex issue.

What is Copyright Compliance?

In short, copyright compliance is making sure that the copyright law is adhered to and that all necessary permissions by the rights holder have been secured. Note: Verbal permission is not a legal means of compliance, a hard copy is required (i.e. a contract or a letter from the copyright owner).

As a faculty member, can I make and distribute copies of works with copyright if I am only using them for educational purposes (i.e. distributing them free of charge to my students)?

Not Necessarily. This is one of the most misunderstood aspects of copyright. The “Fair Use” doctrine allows limited copying of materials for classroom use under the conditions of brevity, spontaneity, nature of the work, and the cumulative effect.

  • Brevity relates to the length of the work in question. For example, a professor may make copies of a complete poem if less than 250 words or an excerpt of a longer poem, not more than 250 words. A professor may copy and article, story, or essay of less than 2,500 words or an excerpt from any prose work of not more than 1,000 words or 10% of the work, whichever is less. A professor may make limited copies of one chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon, or picture per book or per periodical issue.

  • Spontaneity means that the copying occurs at the instance and inspiration of the professor. The decision and inspiration to use the material occurs so close to the time the material is needed as a teaching tool that it becomes unreasonable to expect a timely permission response. An example of spontaneity is a case in which a professor reads an article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution that would help illustrate a point to be made in his/her next lecture. Spontaneity does not occur when a professor decides three weeks in advance to copy an article from Time Magazine.

  • Nature of the work - if the work is a dramatic or creative item it is less likely to be allowed; whereas a work that is factual in nature could be more likely used in favor of Fair Use.

  • The Cumulative Effect of copying involves several issues; the number of copies cannot exceed the number of students enrolled in the course; nor more than one short poem, article, story, essay, or two excerpts may be copied from the same author or more than three from the same collective work or periodical volume during one class term. Specifically, there cannot be more than nine instances of multiple copying for one course during one class term.

How do I find out if a work is copyrighted?

Most published works contain a copyright notice, either on the title page or on the acknowledgments page. If you have a photocopy of the work, you should go to the original source for the copyright citation. Note: the copyright citation may not accurately indicate the copyright owner. For example, many authors do not own the copyrights to their own works. A citation may indicate a particular publisher, but the rights may reverted to a different publisher. The best method for determining copyright ownership involves contacting the publisher of the material you wish to use. When in doubt, ALWAYS seek permission.

Isn't material from the internet free to use?

Not necessarily. Most websites are copyrighted and you must get permission from them to distribute their content. However, there are those sites though that specifically state that content may be used for educational purposes; but for the most part you will need to get permission.

How long does it take to get permission?

The average permission can be secured in 4 to 6 weeks, but that depends on the copyright owner. Some publishers can take up to 8 weeks to return a permission. The KSU Bookstore works with both the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) and LAD Custom Publishing, middle men of sorts, in order to secure permissions. Through these partnerships we can often receive permission within a week; however this is not always the case, especially during peak times (the weeks right before and during a semester's start.) The sooner that you can provide us the bibliographic information the better, it is easier for us to cancel a permission than it is to secure it-remember you can always make changes later.

Copyrights are a maze of narrow paths, tight corners, and numerous dead ends. So it help if you can have someone help you with the navigation; or better yet, have someone run the maze instead of you. The KSU Bookstore is that someone.

The KSU Bookstore will take care of all aspects of securing copyrights-tracking down rightsholders and communicating with them, negotiating any royalty fees, we even handle the paperwork and billing. Our partnerships make producing copyright compliant course packs a breeze. For more information please contact Jamie Burns at [email protected] or by phone at (770) 423-6260

The official State of Georgia-Board of Regents policy regarding Copyright and Educational Fair Use can be found at

The Copyright Clearance Center also has produced four different and very informative documents on specific areas of copyright.

Content Use on Campus - New Copyright Challenges for Senior Administrators -

Using Course Management Systems -

Using Electronic Reserves -

Interlibrary Loans -