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Copyright Law

Copyright law grants authors the exclusive right to control the use and reproduction of their original works. Original works include both published and unpublished versions of literary, dramatic, music, artistic, and other types of intellectual works.

Written permission must be obtained from the author or organization that owns a copyright in order to legally copy or perform these works. Title 17 of the United States Code grants authors these rights.

Downloading copyrighted material from Internet sites such as documents, images, movies, games, and other types of software, without approval from the author or organization that owns it is a violation of copyright law.

Also, avoid sites that allow you to download or upload copyrighted material for "free." If you do so, you are subject to legal prosecution for copyright infringement.

Penalties for copyright infringement include both civil and criminal liabilities. A copyright owner can be awarded a minimum of $750 or a maximum of $30,000 for each instance of infringement. If the infringement is determined to be "willful," the penalty may be increased to $150,000. Those who "willfully" violate copyright law by making 10 more copies of work valued at $2500 or more are subject to five years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines.

An important limitation to copyright law is the concept of fair use.

Fair Use allows for the limited use of a work for research and education. Title 17 of United States Code Section 107 lists the various purposes for which the use of copyrighted material can be used "fairly." The law specifies that a copyrighted work can be used without permission for the following purposes:

  • Criticism and comment
  • Parody and satire
  • Scholarship and research
  • News reporting
  • Teaching

Section 107 also lists various factors to be considered in determining whether the use of copyrighted material constitutes fair use.

Anytime a change is made on one of your official records at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, a Red Flag Rule Email notification is automatically sent to alert you of the change. Changes may be the result of you making a change directly or business processes which have updated official records for one of the following reasons.

Those factors include:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of 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


  • OIT Support Center

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