Copyright Policy:

Canisius College is committed to following all requirements of U. S. Copyright Law.
The information and resources that follow are intended to provide guidance to our faculty, staff, and students in an effort to support the legal use of copyrighted materials in all aspects of the Canisius College Mission. This is not an attempt to analyze the entire legal code but rather to highlight those aspects which are most likely to impact the use of copyrighted material at a nonprofit, accredited, educational institution like Canisius College.

Copyright Basics:

What is copyright?
According to the U. S. Copyright Office, "copyright" is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (under Title 17 of the U.S. Code) to the creators of "original works of authorship" including: literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other published and unpublished works, once they are "fixed in a tangible form of expression".1

What rights do copyright holders have?
Section 106 of the law gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do the following activities: make copies, prepare derivative works, distribute copies, perform/display the work publicly.

Are there limitations to a copyright holder's rights?
Yes. Even though it is illegal to violate any of the rights granted to a copyright holder, their rights are limited in scope and may be subject to one or more exemptions from copyright liability.2

How long does a copyright last? 
The U.S. Copyright Office says "the term of copyright for a particular work depends on several factors, including whether it has been published, and, if so, the date of first publication." 3 Once a copyright expires, the work becomes part of the "Public Domain" and can be used freely.

Copyright Limitations & Exemptions:

As mentioned above, the rights of a copyright holder are subject to certain limitations & exemptions. As a result, there may be situations which permit the constituents of an accredited, non-profit, educational institution (like Canisius College) to use materials without having to seek permission. 

Some of the most useful Limitations & Exemptions for educators are:

How do I ask for permission?
If your desired usage does not qualify under any of the Limitations & Exemptions, then you will need to ask for (and receive) permission from the copyright owner in order to use it legally. For more details, click Asking Permission.

Where can I find additional help & resources?
There are a variety of useful resources available on the Internet, many of which are maintained by educational institutions facing similar challenges. Our Copyright Resources page provides links and brief descriptions of some excellent resources. For more information, click Copyright Resources.

Looking for Related Topics?
Canisius College Policy on Academic Integrity


1, 2 U. S. Copyright Office. (2008). Circular 1. Copyright Basics. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved from
3 U. S. Copyright Office. (2010). How long does a copyright last? Retrieved from