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Copyright Policy

The University of the Sciences in Philadelphia expects that all the members of its community will adhere to the United States Copyright law (Title 17 United States Code) and related laws contained in Title 17 of the United States Code, which further define the proper use of copyrighted materials.

As mentioned below, copyright grants specific rights to the owner of the copyright.  However, certain uses of those works, including “fair use,” in educational settings, are permitted. Members of the University should familiarize themselves with the copyright law and its fair use provisions. Copyright infringement can result in a legal suit and faculty, staff, or students who face litigation over copyright infringement should not assume that the University will defend them or be responsible for judgments. Excellent online materials are available to learn about copyright. Below are links discussing copyright generally and information for special circumstances provided by the Copyright Advisory Office at Columbia University.

In some circumstances, it is allowable for educators to reproduce copyrighted materials without permission:

  • if the material is licensed, as are most electronic materials, and the license allows for it
  • if the material is used in online education, such as an online course, and the provisions of the TEACH Act are followed
  • if the materials fall under the fair use limitations on owners' exclusive rights as contained in the U.S. Copyright Act
  • if the materials fall under certain other limitations on owners' exclusive rights as contained in the U.S. Copyright Act
  • if the materials are a work of the  U.S. government
  • if the materials are otherwise in the  public domain

Scope of Copyright Protection

The Copyright Act gives the copyright owner the exclusive right to distribute, alter, perform, or display the work. Copyright protects the expression of ideas, not the ideas themselves. Similarly, facts do not receive copyright protection, although the selection and arrangement of facts are copyrightable. In the language of copyright, the owner has the “right”:

  1. to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords;
  2. to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work;
  3. to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
  4. in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works, to perform the copyrighted work publicly;
  5. in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to display the copyrighted work publicly; and
  6. in the case of sound recordings, to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.

For education, there are exceptions, defined under the “Fair Use” exceptions

Fair Use

The United States Copyright Act gives the owners of a copyright the exclusive right to reproduce copies of the work, in addition to other rights. However, in some circumstances, this exclusive right is limited. The U.S. Copyright Office discusses  “fair” use of copyrighted material at its Web site. According to the  U.S. Copyright Office,

Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered “fair,” such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:

  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
  5. The distinction between what is fair use and what is infringement in a particular case will not always be clear or easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.

For help in sorting through the “four factors” cited above as they relate to educational use, here is a Fair Use Checklist and the  American Library Association steps an instructor through questions that help to determine the Fair Use exception status for use in the classroom and online.

Fair Use and Media

Explanations of fair use in specific circumstances relating to educational use of media and instances of when to seek permissions can be found at these sites:

Images, Films and Recordings

Utah State University’s Copyright page explains that using visual images and showing films or playing sound recordings in the classroom face-to-face with students may qualify for special exemptions from copyright limitations if it is in a course at a non-profit institution and in a classroom.  17 U.S.  Code 110 provides a complete list

Music Playing and Performing

Outside the classroom, in instances not covered by the TEACH Act (internal jump), playing copyrighted music in public can be an infringement of the copyright owner’s rights and requires permission or licensing.  Using small phrases of another’s music, as in hip hop, needs permissions.  However, clearly the composer of the music has the right to perform it and if the music is in the public domain (internal jump), no permission is needed.

Limitations on Owners' Exclusive Rights

The Copyright Act places several limitations on the exclusive rights of owners. Of particular interest in higher education are these:

  • Libraries are specifically given rights to make a limited number copies and to provide photocopiers for their users. See  17 U.S.C. § 108.
  • Instructors or students may perform or display legally acquired copyrighted work in a classroom setting, to enrolled students, as part of a class session. See  17 U.S.C. § 110 for more details.
  • Under the “first sale doctrine,” the lawful owner of a copy of a work may sell it or lend it without infringing the distribution right. See  17 U.S.C. § 109.


The Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act (TEACH Act) creates a framework for the use of copyrighted works in online education.  USciences policy is to follow the TEACH Act for online courses. The American Library Association provides a  summary of its provisions and some guidance for following the framework in online education..


Electronic materials, such as software or access to subscription products online, are often governed by a license. The license may be more restrictive than the fair use provisions of the copyright law. USciences Library has negotiated license agreements with the vendors of the electronic journals it subscribes to and most allow the posting of their articles behind a password as Blackboard provides. Similarly, videos may be purchased with "public performance rights" that allow for showing the works outside the classroom or to other than enrolled students.

Licensed Images

USciences owns licenses for Microsoft Office software installed on University owned computers. As a licensee of Microsoft Office, users may use Microsoft Clip Art and Media which is a collection of clip art and other images such as line drawings, photographs, background images, buttons, and ruled lines that may be used in print or on the web by USP faculty, students, and staff.

Creative Commons

A non-profit Web site that allows creators of audio, visual, textual work and more to share their creation under simple to use copyright licensing by allowing or prohibiting commercial use of the work, sharing with, or building upon by other.  The licenses do not replace copyright but allow the creator to modify their exclusive rights as they wish. For the user of  Creative Commons works, the restrictions or permissions to use the work in specific ways is clear.

Permissions Purchased by USciences


Members of the USciences community may perform music copyrighted by the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) and the Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI). These rights are purchased annually by the Student Affairs Office. In addition, ASCAP permission extends to the performance of music on the University's website (see the  ASCAP Database of Musical Titles ). Note that these rights pertain only to the live or recorded performances of USP musicians.

Notice to Prospective and Current Students

Do you download, or send to others, copyrighted books, music or movies?  If you don’t have the permission of the copyright holder you are violating federal law and may be liable to fines up to $150,000.

Downloading music or movie files without the permission of the copyright holder is illegal.  So is transferring to others music or movies you may have purchased, referred to as peer-to-peer or p2p file sharing.  Don’t do it.  

If USciences is approached with a subpoena from the Recording Industry Association of America or other similar organization, we are required to turn over our records to them.

Additionally, if you are engaged in downloading or transferring music or movie files, illegally or otherwise, you are interfering with network traffic capability and thereby violating USciences’ Acceptable Use Policy.  Please refer to this policy as well as the Digital Copyright Policy in the Student Handbook.

USciences endorses legal alternatives to unauthorized downloading. The list linked to below is maintained by EDUCAUSE and includes all of the legitimate online services they are aware of.  No endorsement or evaluation is intended. 

For additional information on this and other topics of interest, please visit the Technology Services’ web page.

If Copyrighted Materials Are Found on the USciences Website

USciences’ Agent for Notice of claims of copyright or other intellectual property infringement can be reached as follows:

By mail:
Amy Christopher, Web Manager
University of the Sciences in Philadelphia
600 S. 43rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104.
By phone: 215-596-8730
By fax: 215-596-8760
By email: