open book pages laying on floor


Introduction to Copyright

What is Copyright?

Copyright is found in state, federal, and international laws and grants exclusive rights and protections to creators and developers of creative works, including authors, musicians, artists, and film makers. These rights are specified in section 106 of Title 17 of the U.S. Code (Copyright Act of 1976 and its provisions thereof) and include:

  • The right to reproduce the work;
  • The right to prepare derivative works based on the original work;
  • The right to distribute copies of the work to the public;
  • The right to perform the work publicly;
  • The right to display the work publicly;
  • The right to perform the work publicly via digital audio transmission;
  • And the right to assign these rights to others.

Definitions for terms found throughout this procedure can be at the U.S Copyright Office.

Copyright protects those that are “original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression” [17 U.S. Code § 102]. These include literary, musical, and dramatic works; pantomimes and choreographic works; pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works; motion pictures and other audiovisual works; sound recordings, and architectural works.

Copyright infringement is the act of exercising, without permission or legal authority, one or more of the exclusive rights granted to the copyright owner under section 106. In the context of file-sharing, downloading or uploading substantial parts of a copyrighted work without authority constitutes an infringement. No matter the medium, using copyrighted material without the creator’s consent is a violation of the law.

Copyright protection does not extend to ideas, procedures, systems, methods of operation, concepts, principles, discoveries, or processes, although processes can be patented.

For more information on copyright and the College’s policies on intellectual property, see Intellectual Property (Procedure 2470)

Copyright basics video screenshot

Additional Resources

Copyright Basics: U.S. Copyright Office

Know Your Copy Rights

DMCA: The Digital Millennium Copyright Act

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act was signed into law on October 28, 1998, and became fully effective on October 28, 2000. Incorporated into the Copyright Act, the legislation sought to update U.S. copyright law, meet the emerging challenges of the Digital Age, and implement the requirements of two World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties the United States signed in 1996. Organized into five “titles,” the complex act addresses such issues as:

  • New prohibitions on circumvention of protection technology measures;
  • Limitations on online service provider (OSP) liability;
  • An exemption for making a copy of a computer program by activating a computer for purposes of maintenance or repair; and
  • Updates to rules and procedures regarding archival preservation.
Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act (TEACH)

The Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act was signed into law on November 2, 2002. The legislation seeks to balance the needs of copyright owners and content users while providing guidance to academic institutions. Sections 110(2) and 112 of the Copyright Act were revised to better utilize new teaching technologies and to accommodate the increasing growth of distance education. By virtue of the law, centers of higher learning are now able to use teaching materials protected by copyright in digital form without first obtaining permission from the copyright holder. However, safeguards were introduced to minimize the additional inherent risks to copyright holders in the digital medium.

Faculty Responsibilities

  • The works must be offered at the behest of an instructor and must be an integral part of mediated instructional activities;
  • The use must be restricted to students specifically enrolled in a particular class; only these students will have authorized access;
  • The exemptions under the Act do not include the transmission of entire textbooks, electronic reserves, course packs, supplemental readings, or interlibrary loan; and
  • The instructor will provide notice to students that certain materials may be protected by copyright.

Technical Responsibilities

  • The College must implement technological measures to ensure compliance with these policies;
  • The materials must be stored on a secure server and transmitted only as permitted by law;
  • The College must utilize technology that reasonably hinders students’ abilities to retain a permanent copy of the materials or further disseminate them; and
  • The College must ensure the materials will only be available to students for a duration corresponding to the class session.

Institutional Requirements

  • The College must develop and publish policies regarding copyright. Copyright infringement currently violates Barton’s Student Code of Conduct (Policy 2611) and the Academic Integrity Policy and Procedure (Policy 2502);
  • The College must provide notice to students that materials distributed in the course may be subject to copyright protection; and
  • The College must provide accurate information to faculty, staff, and students regarding copyright and copyright law.
Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA)

The Higher Education Opportunity Act was signed into law on August 14, 2008. The regulations for implementing HEOA were issued by the Department of Education, with an effective date of July 1, 2010. The Act and accompanying congressional reports describe the responsibilities of institutions of higher learning in curbing illegal downloading and the distribution of materials by students through institutional networks. They also require academic institutions to increase their response to copyright infringements in regard to unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials. The lawmakers specify that institutions must take their obligations under the Act seriously and make good faith efforts to comply. Thus, Barton Community College is obligated to:

  • Provide an annual disclosure to students describing copyright law and campus policies related to the violation of copyright law. Three required components of this disclosure are:
    • A statement that explicitly informs students that unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, violate copyright law and campus policies, and may subject the students to civil and criminal liabilities.
    • A summary of the penalties for violation of Federal copyright laws.
    • A description of the College’s policies regarding unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, including disciplinary actions that are taken against students who engage in illegal downloading or unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials using the College’s information technology resources.
  • Implement a plan to “effectively combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials” on the campus network by using a “variety of technology-based deterrents” [sec. 493(29)(A)], perform periodic reviews of the Compliance Plan, and evaluate the results. The required deterrents are:
    • Bandwidth shaping.
    • Traffic monitoring to identify the largest bandwidth users.
    • A vigorous program of responding to DMCA infringement complaints.
    • Commercial products designed to reduce or block illegal file sharing.
  • Offer “alternatives to illegal downloading” [sec. 493(29)(B)].
Barton Community College and Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) Compliance

Barton Community College promotes an atmosphere beneficial to learning by providing access to information technology resources. This access has the potential to be used in the illegal acquisition and distribution of copyrighted materials. Educating students on copyright law is an important component in reducing the illegal distribution of copyrighted materials. Barton endeavors to be compliant with all applicable local, state and federal laws with respect to copyright usage, including the Copyright Act of 1976, Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and the Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act.

Barton Community College Compliance Plan

In an effort to observe copyright laws and respect the mandates set forth in the HEOA, Barton Community College uses the following methods to inform the campus community about HEOA and the College’s response to copyright infringement:

  • Upon enrolling in Barton Community College, each student agrees to conduct himself or herself in a manner consistent with the College’s role as an institution of higher learning and to obey the laws enacted by federal, state and local authorities. If this obligation is ignored or flouted by the student, the College must, in the interest of fulfilling its mission, institute appropriate disciplinary action. All Barton students, faculty, and staff must read and signify their understanding of the following policies as part of the authentication process before access will be granted to the College’s computers and networks:
    • Use of Copyrighted Materials (Policy 1166, Procedure 2150).
    • Use of Computers/College Computing and Information Systems (Policy 1110, Procedure 2111). This policy refers to the “Use of systems for illegal or criminal activity,” which includes unauthorized peer-to-peer sharing of copyrighted works such as music and movies. The described behavior is a violation of Barton policy. (See Section C)
    • Academic Integrity Policy and Procedure (Policy 2502).
    • Students will need to take the additional step of signifying their understanding of the Student Code of Conduct (Policy 2611).
  • Barton Community College distributes information (e.g., revisions and modifications of the Student Handbook and various websites) to students, staff, and faculty concerning the appropriate and inappropriate uses of copyrighted materials.
  • The Financial Aid Office emails an annual notice directly to all enrolled students via their official campus email address (e.g., on the location of all Student Consumer Information, including the proper use of copyrighted materials and campus policies related to violations of copyright law. A copy of the letter can be found in the Institutional Policies section of the Student Consumer Information page.
  • The Director of Library and College Archives and/or Library staff address illegal file sharing during general campus student orientation, residential student orientation, new employee orientation, and information literacy workshops.
  • Information Services employs “technology-based deterrents” as a means of combating illegal distribution of copyrighted materials.
    • Traffic monitoring to identify the largest bandwidth users.
    • A vigorous program of responding to DMCA infringement complaints. An Initial notice triggers a contact from the Information Services department instructing the alleged offender to remove the material. Additional notices are referred to the Chief Information Officer.
    • Peer-to-peer protocols and firewall rules are employed to block known websites used for the downloading of unauthorized copyrighted material.
    • Barton Community College is a member of the KanREN (Kansas Research and Educational Network), thus illegal file-sharing upstream is blocked. Windows 10 Defender is installed on end-user machines to block torrent applications.
  • In compliance with HEOA, Barton Community College alerts students, faculty, and staff to numerous legal alternatives for downloading. No endorsement or evaluation of third-party providers is intended.
    • The Library is an excellent resource to check-out music, movies, and books. Search the Barton Library Catalog and the Library Resources webpage for materials.  
    • In addition to the Library’s resources, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Music Business Association (Music Biz) has developed as a resource for legal music downloads.
    • The Motion Pictures Association (MPA) has accumulated a list of more than 140 platforms with legal access to movies and television shows.
    • The Association of American Publishers (AAP) maintained a page identifying legal sources for downloadable books that has since become inactive. Until AAP provides a replacement page, the Library recommends students, faculty, and staff only access downloadable material from reputable booksellers and providers (e.g., Amazon, Audible, Barnes & Noble, Google eBookstore, Project Gutenberg, etc.)

Penalties for Copyright Infringement

If a student is found to have knowingly violated federal, state, and local laws that affect his or her suitability as a member of the College community, and/or committed a fraudulent or unauthorized use of computing resources, and/or engaged in an instance of academic dishonesty, all of which could include copyright infringement, he or she will be sanctioned according to the Disciplinary Actions described within the Student Code of Conduct. These measures may involve sanctions up to and including expulsion from school.

Furthermore, the music, motion picture, and publishing industries actively track copyright violators and seek damages for infringements. Penalties for copyright infringement include civil and criminal penalties. In general, those found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or “statutory” damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed. For “willful” infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can use its discretion to also assess costs and legal fees. For further details, see Ch. 5, Sections 504 and 505 of the Copyright Act.

Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense.

For more information, visit the U.S. Copyright Office, especially their FAQs page.

Plan Review

Barton Community College stakeholders will regularly review the compliance plan and make necessary revisions to remain in compliance. Any changes to the policy or procedures will take effect at the commencement of the following academic year.

Annually in June, the Chief Information Officer will access collected monitoring data on network traffic and the volume of MCA notices received in order to determine the overall effectiveness of the College’s policy and procedures to promote the legal use of copyrighted materials.

Every three years, the Director of Library and College Archives will consult appropriate copyright laws, review Procedure 2150 and Library practices, and revise as needed.

The Student Consumer Information team will review the relevance and accuracy of the annual communication sent to all students by the Financial Aid Office.


For questions about this plan or associated policies and procedures, contact:

Michelle Kaiser, Chief Information Officer
Information Services

(620) 792-9232

Darren L. Ivey, Director of Library and College Archives
Barton Library

(620) 792-9364

Jenni Miller, Financial Aid Communication Specialist
(866) 257-2574

Copyright Permission

If you are not sure whether you have the appropriate permissions to use materials, consult this Copyright Flowchart.

Additional Resources

Requesting Permission: Columbia University Libraries/Information Services
Copyright Clearance Center: Pay per use or contact copyright holder
Copyright Permission Form 

Public Domain

Public Domain

Published works are divided into two categories resulting from whether they secured federal statutory protection on or after January 1, 1978, the date the Copyright Act went into effect. The Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, signed into law on October 27, 1998, altered the lifetime of copyright of works published from 1926* to 1978 to reflect their current term. Generally, the existing laws automatically protect a work created on or after January 1, 1978, for a term of the author’s life plus an additional 70 years. For works made for hire and anonymous and pseudonymous works, the duration of copyright is 95 years from the first publication or 120 years after creation, whichever is the shorter term. Once these time limits are reached, works pass into the public domain.

For works that had already secured statutory protection prior to January 1, 1978, the system found in the Copyright Act of 1909 has been retained for determining copyright status, with some revisions.

Most types of works are located within six broad groups. The categories in the tables below do not purport to resolve every situation, and they omit sound recordings, architectural works, and works published outside the United States. These categories should only be used as a convenient guide; additional questions may be directed to a Barton Library employee for further research and consultation.

Works Registered or First Published in the U.S.

Date of Publication



Before 1926*


None. In the public domain due to copyright expiration

1926* through year-end 1963

Published with notice, and the copyright was renewed under the 1909 Act

95 year after publication date. All works not properly renewed have entered the public domain

1964 through year-end 1977

Copyright was automatically renewed under the 1992 legislation

95 years after publication date

Works created, but not published, before 1978

Copyright was automatically conferred under the 1992 legislation

70 years after the death of the author.

Works created on or after 1978

Created after 1977 and published with notice

70 years after the death of the author. If a work of corporate authorship 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever expires first

1776 through present year

Works prepared by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that individual’s official duties.

None. In the public domain [17 U.S. Code § 105]

*Date will change on yearly basis

Never Published, Never Registered Works

Type of Work

Copyright Term

Entered into the public domain, effective January 1, 2021

Unpublished works

70 years after the death of the author.

Works from authors who died before 1952*

Unpublished anonymous and pseudonymous works, and works made for hire (corporate authorship)

120 years from the date of creation

Works created before 1902*

Unpublished works when the death date of the author is unknown [17 U.S. Code § 302(e)]

120 years from the date of creation

Works created before 1902*

*Date will change on yearly basis

For more details, see Circular 15A from the Copyright Office and the Digital Copyright Slider.

Fair Use

The concept of "Fair Use" can be found in section 107 of the Copyright Act. This section explains in broad terms the conditions under which it is permissible to use copyright-protected materials without first obtaining permission from the author or creator of the work. The following is excerpted from the copyright law:

“[Fair] use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use, the factors to be considered shall include—

  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

“The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a fining of fair use if such fining is made upon consideration of all the above factors.”

Additionally, section 504(c)(2) protects individuals working in a non-profit educational institution who possess “reasonable grounds for believing that his or her use of the copyrighted work was a fair use under section 107.” To enjoy the protections of this subsection, students, faculty, and staff need to ensure the four criteria for fair use have been met. When evaluating the use of copyrighted materials, take into consideration all four criteria.

Copyright on Campus

Copyright on campus video screenshot