Copyright and Fair Use Laws

The copyright laws of the United States make it illegal for anyone to duplicate copyrighted materials without permission. Severe penalties are provided for unauthorized copying of all materials covered by the act unless the copying falls within the bounds of the "fair use" doctrine.

Fair use is typically defined as using limited portions of published materials or items in the public domain that can be used, adapted, copied, and published in their entirety without restrictions or permission.

Examples of limited use would be as follows:

  1. Using a chapter from a book but not the entire book.
  2. An article from a periodical or newspaper.
  3. A short story, essay, or poem but this should be limited to one work.
  4. A graph, chart, diagram, drawing, cartoon, or picture from a book, periodical,
  5. newspaper.

Fair use allows for materials that the creator has placed in the public domain, materials published before 1923, or works by long dead creators can be used in their entirety without restrictions or permission. Additional details on fair use are available from the U.S. Copyright Office at

Any original materials created by students are owned by those students. Original materials will not be used in college publications nor be posted on college web sites without prior written permission of the student who created the work. The person supervising the publication/web site shall be in charge of monitoring permission to post copyrighted materials.

Any duplication of copyrighted materials by college employees, students, and other users must be done with permission of the copyright holder or within the bounds of "fair use" as described in federal copyright legislation. The administration shall adopt and enforce procedures recommended by Legal Counsel.

Copyright materials include both printed information and electronic media (software, videotapes, audio tapes, materials downloaded from the Internet, etc).

No copyrighted or trademarked materials will be posted unless posted by the holder of the copyright or trademark or without the expressed permission of such holder. No user will distribute software, hardware, viruses, spam, licenses, registration information or software keys through any of the PCC sites or forums. No advertisements are allowed to be posted by users except for advertisements for Pratt Community College.

Copyright law

Copyright infringement occurs when you do any of the following: reproduce, distribute, perform, publicly display, or create a derivative work (recasting, transforming or adapting an original copyrighted work) a copyrighted work without the permission of the copyright owner.

When you upload or download works protected by copyright without the permission of the copyright owner, you may be infringing on the copyright owners rights of reproduction and/or distribution. If you are found to have infringed a copyright work, you may be liable for statutory damages up to $30,000 for each work infringed. If the copyright owner can prove willful infringement, you may be liable for up to $150,000 for each work infringed. Your liability may not stop there: you may also be liable for the attorney’s fees the copyright owner incurs to enforce his or her rights.

Files distributed over peer-to-peer networks are primarily copyrighted works. Should you distribute or reproduce (upload or download) them without the permission of the copyright owner, you run the risk of liability. You can avoid these risks by purchasing works through authorized services. There are sites on the Internet that allow you to purchase copyrighted works.

EDUCAUSE maintains a list of legal sources of online content at ( Note that there may be some websites that are not listed that offer to sell content. Not all sites that sell content are legal; similarly, free content is not always illegal. These sites may be funded through advertisers or represent artists who wish to distribute their music freely. It is the user’s responsibility to ensure content is legal.

The institution accepts no liability for an individual’s failure to comply with the copyright laws.

Revision Dates: 04-17-2018, 09-19-2017, 01-18-2011, 07-24-2000, 12-15-1997.

Policy Number: 


Policy Type: 

Administrative Policy

Adoption Date: 

Monday, February 21, 1994

Review Date: 

Friday, December 18, 2020

Revision Date: 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018