J. Reuben Clark Law School and Hunter Law Library
The Law School is committed to the enforcement and protection of copyrights as both a legal and an ethical imperative. A copyright is a set of exclusive rights that vests in the author of an original work of authorship (including literary, musical, dramatic, pictorial, sculptural, and motion picture works). The copyright attaches upon the work’s creation (when it is “fixed in a tangible medium of expression”); current law does not require the formalities of registration or of a copyright notice such as the ” ©” symbol. The exclusive rights covered by copyright include the right to (1) copy or reproduce the work or portions of the work (including by making electronic copies); (2) prepare “derivative works” based on the original; (3) distribute copies of the work or portions of the work (including by electronic means); and (4) publicly perform or display the work.
Any faculty member, staff member, or student who intends to copy or distribute any material that is not in the public domain and is, therefore, protected by copyright must first receive copyright clearance from the law school’s Copyright Coordinator under the procedures set forth here, unless the copyright is held by that faculty member, staff member, or student. Copyright clearance is required even if the material is believed to be covered by the doctrine of fair use, and even if permission has already been secured from the holder of the copyright by the individual faculty member, staff member, or student. “Copying” and “distributing” include not only making and distributing hard copies, but also making any digital or electronic copies, posting such copies on the internet or the law school’s web page, or distributing copies via e-mail.
Any faculty member, staff member, or student seeking copyright clearance must contact the law school’s Copyright Coordinator. Requests for clearance should be submitted on a form approved by the Copyright Committee. The request should be submitted as far in advance of the use of the material as is reasonably possible (preferably at least one month in advance). The form for the written request may be completed in hard copy or on the law school’s web page, and will require the person submitting the request to (1) identify the copyrighted works in question by author, title, publication date, journal citation (where applicable), publisher (if known), and ISBN/ISSN (if known); (2) describe the nature of any copying and/or distribution (e.g., hard copies, scanning, uploading, etc.); (3) identify the name of the course and number of students to whom the material will be distributed; (4) indicate whether the person submitting the request has ever previously received permission to use the material in question, and attach any documents memorializing such permission; and (5) indicate whether the person submitting the request believes that a fair use privilege applies, and provide a brief justification for such privilege.
Many single copies made purely for research purposes will be covered by the doctrine of fair use, particularly where only a portion of the original work is copied. For such uses, the Copyright Coordinator may provide clearances that may cover certain uses, without requiring specific clearance requests for each individual copy.
If a faculty member disagrees with a decision of the Copyright Coordinator, appeal may be made to the Associate Dean for Faculty & Curriculum.