What is copyright law?

Copyright law is a sub discipline of intellectual property law and is governed by Title 17 of the United States Code - The Copyright Act.. Title 17 is a federal law and applies to all States. It is meant to protect an author’s (or creator’s) rights to his or her work from unauthorized use by others, while allowing for the promotion of creativity and learning.

Why is copyright law relevant to the FIU Community?

Copyright law regulates the use of many FIU resources including those works created by faculty or staff, or located in University libraries and departments like Special Collections, Sound and Image Resources, Digital Collections, the Wolfsonian, or the Frost Art Museum. Students, researchers, specialists, professors and the general public using such works are bound by applicable copyright law. Copyright restrictions may include limits on how much of a book may be photocopied and requirements that the copy be made within the parameters of a license/permission or “fair use.”

How is the FIU community allowed to use any works at all?

Remember that copyright law is meant to promote learning and creativity while protecting authors’ rights. The Copyright Act allows for the fair use of a work, where an author’s permission has not been obtained. The fair use doctrine allows a work to be used for “private study, scholarship, or research.” FIU encourages fair use as long as the works used are properly cited to and attributed by the user. In determining whether any use is fair, four factors must be considered:

  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
It is the user’s responsibility to seek authorization from the author to use a work when fair use is not available. Moreover, it is important to note that all users in the FIU community assume all liability for copyright infringement. If the user requires additional information on this process, please contact us.

For more information and resources see the Fair Use section of this site.