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Copyright: Home

Martin Community College Library Copyright Policy

U. S. copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code) prohibits the unauthorized reproduction or distribution of copyrighted materials, except as permitted by the principles of “fair use”. Users may not copy or distribute electronic materials (including electronic mail, text, images, programs, or data) without the explicit permission of the copyright holder. Any responsibility for any consequences of copyright infringement lies with the user; the Learning Resources Center (Library) expressly disclaims any liability or responsibility resulting from such use. The Library expressly disclaims any liability or responsibility arising from access to or use of information obtained through its electronic information systems, or any consequences thereof.

What Copyright Means for You

  • What exactly is copyright?  

"A form of protection provided by the laws of the United States for 'original works of authorship', including literary, dramatic, musical, architectural, cartographic, choreographic, pantomimic, pictorial, graphic, sculptural, and audiovisual creations. 'Copyright' literally means the right to copy but has come to mean that body of exclusive rights granted by law to copyright owners for protection of their work. " [1] 

  • How does this affect you?  

This means you cannot make photocopies or print out or distribute (in print or electronically or any other form) something that was written or recorded or otherwise created by someone else.

  • Are there exceptions? 


  1. Exception 1 - Public Domain – “The public domain is not a place. A work of authorship is in the 'public domain' if it is no longer under copyright protection or if it failed to meet the requirements for copyright protection. Works in the public domain may be used freely without the permission of the former copyright owner.” [2]  See the Copyright Help box for more information.
  2. Exception 2 – Works under Creative Commons Licenses – Some authors choose to provide their works for sharing, for example open source computer software and open textbooks.  These works often display a Creative Commons License.  See the Copyright Help box for more information.
  3. Exception 3 – Fair Use – Some allowances are made for scholarly purposes.  “[T]he fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.” [3]  See the Copyright Help box for more information.


[1] U.S. Copyright Office. (n.d.) U.S. Copyright Office definitions. Retrieved from

[2] U.S. Copyright Office. (n.d.) Definitions. Retrieved from

[3] U.S. Copyright Office. (n.d.) Chapter 1: Subject matter and scope of copyright: 107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use. Retrieved from

Working With Copyright Exceptions

Students should always cite their sources in papers and projects, even when using items that are not under copyright, such as public domain items.

Public Domain

Works with Creative Commons Licenses

Fair Use

There are four criteria you must consider to determine whether your intended use of a copyrighted item is "fair use."  Students should click the link below and evaluate their intended use according to the four guildelines before doing things like photocopying a portion of a book or printing a journal article from a database.

Get Help from the Library

  • Visit us in Building 2 during library hours
  • Call us during library hours at: 252-789-0238
  • E-mail us at: (We try to respond within 2 hours when the library is open.)
  • Video chat with an MCC librarian during library hours. Call or e-mail us for an appointment.  We can usually help you right away.
  • Use the chat box in the middle of the library home page after hours.  (Chat is available Mon. - Fri. 5 pm to 8 am & Sat. and Sun. 8 am to midnight.)