The Essential Copyright

The Essential Copyright

A Guide To Copyright in the Educational Setting

The days when copyright law led an esoteric and quiet life on university campuses disappeared forever with the rise of digitization and the Internet.  If you think copyright has nothing to do with your work at UNCC, ask yourself whether you have ever posted anything to or printed anything from the Internet.  Have you ever used a photocopier, scanner, recorder or ever "borrowed" someone else's work to use in your own creation?  If so, you have used a copyrighted work, without the prior permission of the copyright holder, and your actions may or may not have been legal.

Alternately, have you ever written a paper, a letter, an email, taken a photograph or vacation video, or even drawn a picture? Congratulations!  Published or not, your work is fully protected by copyright and you are a copyright holder.

Universities both create and use works continuously, particularly as teaching materials, course reserves, and classes themselves move online.  Questions concerning copyright permeate every teaching and research activity on campus.  All projects, writings, course materials must identify and address copyright related issues first.  Doing so will save much time and energy later, especially should your use be challenged.

What Should You Do and Why?

A campus is a diverse place.  What motivates academic leadership to support copyright education and compliance will not be the same as the motivators for faculty or students or librarians or staff or legal counsel, and so on.  For example, academic leadership might find the following messages about the need for copyright education compelling:

  • Copyright awareness creates opportunity;
  • It encourages and stimulates creativity and innovation in teaching and research;;
  • It expands opportunities by qualifying our institution for greater rights under copyright law;;
  • A positive, proactive approach to copyright education is a cost-effective risk management activity;;
  • Copyright education is the kind of responsible behavior expected of an institution of higher education.;


Similarly tailored targeted messages can be found on the Know Your Copy Rights Message Development section.





Our goal is to provide practical assistance in helping you through the copyright maze.  Topics include using copyrighted material in your teaching and research, both online and face-to-face; understanding who owns works created here at UNCC; fair use; plagiarism; permissions; the TEACH Act; digitizing materials; managing your copyrights responsibly, and much more.

Additionally, this is now the home of the original popular TEACH Act Toolkit, one of the first and heavily used sites explaining the content and implementation of this important addition to the copyright law as it applies to distance education.


Contact Information:

Kate Dickson
Copyright & Licensing Librarian


Please Note:  Information provided on this site and by the Copyright & Licensing Librarian does not constitute legal advice. The only office on campus that provides legal advice is the Office of Legal Affairs.