Copyright FAQs

What is a copyright?

The copyright law grants owners of copyright (authors and other creators and publishers) the sole right to do or allow others to do each of the following acts with regard to their copyrighted works: to reproduce all or part of the work; to distribute copies; to prepare new (derivative) versions based on the original work; and to perform and display the work publicly.

  1. How do I find out who owns the copyright for a particular work?
    You should consult both the page containing the copyright notice as well as any acknowledgment pages in the work. If you have a photocopy or other reproduction that does not contain a notice of copyright or acknowledgments, you should consult an original copy of the work to determine if the original has the information you need.
  2. What are the penalties for copyright infringement?
    Civil and criminal penalties may be imposed for copyright infringement. Civil remedies include an award of monetary damages (substantial statutory damages, which in cases of willfulness, may total up to $100,000 per work infringed, or actual damage, including the infringer's profits), and award of attorney's fees, injuctive relief against future infringement and the impounding and destruction of infringining copies and the plates or other articles used in making such copies.
  3. What is "fair use"? How does it affect copyrighted material?
    The Doctrine of "Fair Use" under the U.S. copyright law in limited situations permits the use of a copyrighted work, including reproducing portions of that work, without the copyright owner's permissions. Section 107 of the copyright Act establishes four basic factors to be examined in determining whether a use constitutes a "fair use" under the copyright law. These factors are:
    1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for non-profit.
    2. The nature of the copyrighted work;
    3. The amount and substantiality of the portion of the work used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
    4. The effect of the use in question upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

    No one factor is determinative of a person's right to use a copyrighted work without permission. (Educational use alone is not sufficient to make a use in question a fair one.)

  4. What is the average publisher-set royalty fee?
    Royalty fees are set by individual publishers in per page increments. It is impossible for Printing & Mail Services to offer an average fee on the royalty charge. Printing Services will be happy to research the fee and give you an idea of what the range will be.
  5. If the author of the material to be copied is also the instructor, are discounts available on the publisher-set royalty fee?
    In this case, clearly mark the request by adding a note pointing this out. A request will be made to the publisher asking for their consideration when establishing a royalty fee.
  6. What if the publisher must be contacted directly?
    Printing Services is happy to do this for you. There will be an additional fee of $5.00 for each publisher that is contacted directly by Printing and Mail Services.
  7. How do I determine the copyright owner for material contained in an anthology?
    Copyright information can be found on:
    1. Acknowledgement pages
    2. The first page of the chapter/article
    3. Table of contents
  8. Do I have to give the original material to someone in order to have a permission search done?
    No. You may use a Copyright Clearance Form. (click on to go to form)
  9. How long does it usually take to receive permission?
    On-line permission may be obtained by Printing and Mail Services. If the work is not registered with the clearinghouse Printing and Mail Services uses, there are two things that can happen. First, if the publisher is registered with the clearinghouse a special request may be made, and a response will be received back within 48 hours. Second, if the publisher is not registered with the clearinghouse, the publisher must be contacted directly. Printing and Mail Services will contact the publisher for you.