This site is intended to provide general information and resources regarding current
copyright practices. For specific questions or to secure permission to use materials
for instructional purposes, please contact Melinda Weatherford , LCC Copyright Officer, at 360-442-2662.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is copyright?
- What does copyright protect?
- What is copyright infringement?
- May I use someone else’s work?
- How do I obtain copyright permission?
- May I make photocopies of materials?
What is copyright?
Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by
law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright
covers both published and unpublished works.
What does copyright protect?
Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship
including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels,
movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts,
ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things
What is copyright infringement?
Whether intentional or not, copyright infringement is theft of Intellectual property
and carries significant legal consequences for both individuals and the institutions
for which they work. It occurs when a copyrighted work is reproduced, distributed,
performed, publicly displayed, or is incorporated into another (derivative) work without
the permission of the copyright owner.
May I use someone else's work?
If a work is protected by copyright, it may still be possible to legally use it. Permission
can be granted by the copyright owner in the form of a license or release. Excellent
resources to determine this are the Copyright Clearance Center and the United States
How do I obtain copyright permission?
Permission to use protected material can be retained through a simple six step process.
- Determine whether permission is needed to use an item.
- Identify who owns the protected material.
- Define the specific rights to be requested.
- Contact the owner.
- Due diligence: actions which must be taken if the copyright owner cannot be located.
- Receive written permission.
May I make photocopies of materials?
Photocopying small amounts of course materials by students is typically considered
fair use. A single photocopy of a portion of a copyright-protected work, such as a
copy of an article from a scientific journal made for research, may be made without
permission. Photocopying all the assignments from a book recommended for purchase
by the instructor, making multiple copies of articles or book chapters for distribution
to classmates, or copying material from consumable workbooks, all require permission.