Copyright Statement

A copyrightable work is any work that is original and has some degree of creativity. Section 102 of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 states simply:

"Copyright protection subsists, in accordance with this title, in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression."

U.S. Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C., Section 102(a)

The intent of the law is to protect the rights of creators and producers of intellectual property and their heirs and assignees. In the U.S., copyright no longer requires registration or notice. That is, as soon as a work is placed in a "tangible medium of expression," copyright exists in the work. Certain exemptions (Fair Use) have been made to facilitate the use of information in educational settings. The guidelines which follow are intended to clarify the use of media at Tarrant County College District.

The rules for determining whether a protected work is in the public domain are complex and somewhat hard to describe, partly because they have changed many, many times. The general rules (excluding anonymous works and works for hire) can be summarized as follows:

  • Any work published on or before December 31, 1922 is now in the public domain.
  • Works published between January 1, 1923 and December 31, 1978, inclusive, are protected for a term of 95 years from the date of publication, with the proper notice.
  • But, if the work was published between 1923 and December 31, 1963, when there used to be a (non-automatic) "renewal term," the copyright owner may not have renewed the work. If they did not renew, the original term of protection (28 years) would now be expired and these works will be in the public domain.
  • After 1978, the way we measure the term of protection changes. It is no longer related to a date of publication, but rather runs for 70 years from the date the author dies (called "life of the author" plus 70 years). Further, publication is irrelevant. Works are protected whether they are published or not.
  • Finally, those works that were created before December 31, 1978, but never published, are now protected for the life of the author plus 70 years.

It is the responsibility of the user of intellectual property to ascertain the valid holder of copyright and to adhere to the copyright law.

Fair Use Guidelines provide for a certain amount of individual discretion in the use of copyrighted material. Students, for example, are generally accorded wide latitude in the use of materials for class projects, assignments, papers, etc. because their creations are private, are not for sale, are not publicly performed, and do not harm the potential market value of the work. Instructors may copy a wide variety of material for use in the classroom and to assist in research. The law protects the copyright holder by prohibiting copying which harms the potential market of the work, i.e., to substitute for anthologies or to substitute for workbooks. It should also be noted that the District may have contracts with industry organizations which determine certain rights and responsibilities with regard to some forms of copyrighted material (ASCAP, BMI/SESAC for music; theatrical agencies for dramatic works).

District service units (the Copy Center, Instructional Media Services, the Library, etc.) are liable for any reproduction which they carry out and reserve the right to question, to defer, to refuse requests for service which appear to violate copyright and, therefore, place the District at risk of infringing the copyright law.

Video Recordings

Video recordings may be used in classes under the following conditions:

  1. The viewing is a regular part of the course.
  2. The viewing is limited to the members of the class.
  3. The instructor is present for the viewing.
  4. There is no external publicity.
  5. The video is not presented via a cable or satellite network. 

Note 1: No license from the copyright holder is required when an instructor at a public school or non-profit educational institution uses a lawfully purchased or rented copy of a video in classroom instruction. It does not matter who purchased or rented the video, so long as it was legally obtained. The exemption is granted for "face-to-face" teaching activities only. The exemption covers a "classroom or similar place devoted to instruction." A place used for large educational presentations in which several classes are convened together would be covered so long as an instructor presented the video. 

Note 2: Video recording of dramatic performances--the rights to produce and perform plays, musicals, and other dramatic and theatrical works are specifically detailed by theatrical agencies which license all productions not in the public domain. The rights to record such performances must be negotiated along with the rights to produce the work. Without specific permission, one may not record a performance or a dress rehearsal of a play for any reason (archival purposes, for a personal record, for a memento, etc.)

Off-Air Recording of Television

Broadcast television programs may be copied and used in classes under the following conditions: 

  1. The recording is used within 10 days following the original broadcast.
  2. The viewing is a regular part of the course.
  3. The viewing is limited to the members of the class.
  4. There is no external publicity.
  5. The recording is not presented via an inter-campus network. 

Material recorded off-air may be retained for a period of 45 calendar days following the original broadcast to allow for instructor evaluation (to determine whether one wants to retain the copy) and to allow for payment of fees and copyright compliance should retention be desired. Following that period, the recording must be destroyed. Programs available via pay television services (HBO, Showtime, etc.) may not be copied and used in the classroom. Personal copies, i.e., programs copied by an instructor at home, may be used only if they adhere to the above conditions.   

Possession of a video does not confer the right to show it in public. The copyright owner specifies, at the time of purchase or rental, the circumstances in which a video may be "performed." Rented videos which bear the label "Home Use Only" may not be advertised. Advertised or public showings require explicit license, either associated with the video or arranged through a video rental service.


Use of recorded music is governed by ASCAP/BMI/SESAC contracts, allowing the use and broadcast of recorded music by faculty, staff and students, on campus under the auspices of and benefit of Tarrant County College District. 

Copying recorded music- permissible uses:

  1. Emergency copying to replace purchased copies which for any reason are not available for an imminent performance provided purchased replacement copies shall be substituted in due course.
  2. For academic purposes other than performances, single or multiple copies of excerpts of works may be made, provided that the excerpts do not comprise a part or the whole which would constitute a performable unit such as a section movement or aria, but in no case more than 10 percent of the whole work. The number of copies shall not exceed one copy per pupil.
  3. A single copy of recordings of performances by students may be made for evaluation or rehearsal purposes and may be retained by the educational institution of individual instructor.
  4. A single copy of a sound recording (such as a tape, disc or cassette) of copyrighted music may be made from sound recordings owned by an educational institution or an individual instructor for the purpose of constructing aural exercises or examinations and may be retained by the educational institution or individual instructor. This pertains only to the copyright of the music itself and not to any copyright which may exist in the sound recording. 


  1. Copying for the purpose of performance, except as in 1 above.
  2. Copying for the purpose of substituting for the purchase of music, except as in 1 and 2 above.

Fair Use Considerations

The fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproductions in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, instruction (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use 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.
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. 

To foster responsible compliance with copyright law that would take full advantage of fair use opportunities and thereby lower institutional risk for copyright infringement liability, the University of New Mexico (UNM) launched the UNM Copyright Guide website. Included in this site is a Fair Use Analysis (FUA) tool, an interactive device intended to educate users and facilitate fair use decision making by stepping users through a four-factor analysis using the above factors: purpose, nature, amount and market effect.

Documenting one's good faith efforts to apply fair use guidelines is important given that the penalties for willful infringement of copyright are much more severe than those for innocent infringement.

Updated January 20, 2023