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Acceptable Use Policy – Copyright Compliance

The Basics:

Copyright is available for any original work of authorship as soon as that work is fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which the work can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.

There are eight categories of "works of authorship:"

  1. literary works (including computer programs)
  2. musical works, including any accompanying words
  3. dramatic works, including any accompanying music
  4. pantomimes and choreographic works
  5. pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
  6. motion pictures and other audiovisual works
  7. sound recordings
  8. architectural works

Copyright is NOT available for ideas, procedures, processes, systems, methods of operation, concepts principles, or discoveries. Expressions of such items are copyrightable, but the copyright does not cover the underlying idea, etc...

The Copy"rights:"

A copyright holder has the exclusive right to do and authorize others to do the following:

  1. make copies of the work
  2. prepare derivative works based on the work (e.g., making a movie from a book)
  3. distribute copies to the public by sale, rental, lease, lending
  4. perform the work publicly (only for literary, musical, dramatic, choreographic, pantomimes, motion pictures, other audiovisual works)
  5. display the work publicly (only for literary, musical, dramatic, choreographic, pantomimes, pictorial, graphic, sculptural works)
  6. perform the work publicly by means of digital audio transmission (only for sound recordings)

If an individual performs any one of these tasks without the permission of the copyright holder, she has infringed. Lack of intent is irrelevant.

Reference and excellent resource: Copyright Office web page

Copyright and Technology:

What, in the computer world, is copyrightable:

  1. All computer software, both application and operating programs, whether written in source code, object code, or microcode
  2. Every computer program found in hardware/firmware components, such as the processor chip, memory boards, sound boards, etc. . . .
  3. Automated databases
  4. Every work of original authorship available on the world wide web

Copyright Cautions:

  1. Software (including desktop and network operating systems, BIOS, and application programs):
    1. Absent any license agreement (a rare occurrence), and absent express permission by the copyright holder in the software, software may not be copied, in whole or part (this includes loading the software on more than one computer) other than:
      1. if you must load the software into your computer in order to use it, doing so, technically, results in making a copy (in addition to the original software, on disc, now there is a copy on your hard-drive). This is not considered infringement of the software copyright, since loading it is a necessary step in using the software. And,
      2. You may make an archival copy of the software to protect against destruction. However,
      3. If you transfer ownership of the original software to another person, you must destroy the copy on your computer and your archival copy.
    2. The common practice is for software companies to license software, not sell it outright. Licensing allows the companies to restrict use of the software, more so than they could by outright transfer of ownership. Commonly, one who “purchases” software merely purchases a license to use the software and must, as a licensee, comply with all the terms contained in the license agreement. Therefore, it is critical that users and providers of software understand the terms and conditions of the governing software license. As examples, license agreements often have conditions that limit:
      1. The number of users that may employ the software at any one time,
      2. The number of computers the software may by loaded on at any one time,
      3. The number of users/computers that may access the software,
      4. The types of activities the software may be used for (e.g., for educational purposes only)
      5. Rental or other disposition or transfer of the software,
      6. Decompiling or reverse engineering the software,
      7. Modifying the software,
      8. Operating systems options

    Failure to comply with any term or condition of the license agreement amounts to a breach of the license that subjects the user/provider to copyright and other legal liability. It is important to realize that the terms of license agreements may vary dramatically from vendor to vendor.

  2. Automated Databases: Automated databases are, most commonly, controlled by subscriber agreements that detail the legitimate and illegitimate uses of the database systems and the data available through such systems. Generally, the agreement merely grants a license to access the system and the datacontained therein with restrictions such as:
    1. reverse engineering, decompiling, disassemble or otherwise discern the source code of the components of the system
    2. reproducing all or any portion of the system components
    3. types of use (e.g., may only use data for research purposes)
    4. amount of data that may be downloaded/saved and for what length of time
    5. quoting and excerpting data
    6. use of data for the creation of another automated database
    7. licensing, selling, or distributing data to third parties
    8. rights in the data itself (different from the rights in the system)
    9. the number and type of users that may access the system

    Failure to comply with any term or condition of the user agreement amounts to a breach of the agreement that subjects the user/provider to copyright and other legal liability. It is important to realize that the terms of agreements may vary dramatically from vendor to vendor.

  3. The World Wide Web: The internet has greatly expanded the ability for authors to both create and disseminate copyrighted works. It has also made it far easier to copy and distribute the work of another. Copyrights exist on the internet just as they exist in the traditional copyright media.Obvious methods of infringing a copyrighted work published on the World Wide Web include:
    1. downloading the work to a hard-drive or other memory device
    2. printing a copy of the work
    3. re-transmitting the work (uploading)
    4. altering the work
    5. using the work to create a new work

    Apart from the obvious, the internet affords new forms of activity that were not foreseen and are not clearly covered by intellectual property laws. For example, the linking of another web site to your web site without permission and merely viewing copyrighted works in RAM only may, under certain circumstances, amount to copyright infringement.

    The best advice: if you intend to use a work of authorship that is not original to you, regardless of source or format, and it is not perfectly clear the work is not copyrighted, then assume it is.

  4. Special responsibilities placed on the University as an on-line service provider: Under the new Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the University is considered to be an online service provider. As to its role as an online service provider, users should be aware that the (DMCA) creates limitations on liability and special requirements for the University. Individual users do not escape copyright liability under these provisions.The limitations for copyright liability relate to conduct of a service provider that falls into one of the following four categories:
    1. transitory communications;
    2. system caching;
    3. storage of information on systems or networks at direction of users; and
    4. information location tools.

    The DMCA does not place any duty on a service provider to monitor its service or access any material in violation of the law. However, a service provider must, once properly notified of a claimed infringement, take down or block access to the material in question. Furthermore, a service provider is required to put the material back up within 10-14 business days of receipt of a proper counter notification by the user against whom the original complaint was filed, unless the copyright owner files an action in court against the user.

    Valparaiso University has designated the Chief Information Officer of the Office of Information Technology as the University agent for purposes of receiving notifications of claimed copyright infringement, and has filed this designation with the U.S. Copyright Office.


This is by no means a complete reporting of intellectual property laws as they apply to computers and technology or the application of these laws to the educational community. This brief explanation is provided simply to alert users of University electronic systems that they must remain vigilant in their use of these resources to respect copyrights and other rights of authors whose works are a part of or may be accessed through electronic means.

Version Published Changed By Comment
CURRENT (v. 4) Sep 14, 2017 17:48
v. 3 Sep 14, 2017 16:49
v. 2 Sep 14, 2017 16:34
v. 1 Sep 14, 2017 15:06

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