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Copyright Resources Guide

Copyright and Plagiarism

The relationship between copyright and plagiarism can seem complicated.  

Plagiarism is about using creative work without attribution ("giving credit"):  Plagiarism is using someone else's words (or other creative output) and claiming them as your own or otherwise not giving them credit.  It is to avoid plagiarism that we cite sources (among other reasons) and provide attribution for quotations and paraphrasing in our work.

Copyright infringement is about using creative work without permission. Copyright infringement happens whenever we use someone else's creative work without their permission.  Does that mean that every time we quote someone in our papers we need to ask for their permission?  No!  This is because the copyright law has a concept called "fair use" built into it.  You can read all about fair use elsewhere in this guide but the kind of quoting that you would do in a paper would nearly always be a fair use.

So, it is possible to plagiarize without infringing copyright.  It is also possible to infringe copyright without plagiarizing.  

For more information about plagiarism, visit the Citations and Avoiding Plagiarism guide.

Class Presentations

Nearly any use of images, video, or audio for class presentations and delivered in a face-to-face classroom setting is permitted. This broad exception does not apply to copying and distributing text so doing something like photocopying an article might not be allowed.  

Showing Movies

Is it okay for students or student clubs to show a movie? There are, basically, two contexts in which you could show a movie without public performance rights (the license that allows you to show a movie legally in public when you are not the copyright owner):

  1. in your private home (as long as you're not opening it to the general public or charging admission)
  2. in a classroom as part of a class. 

For virtually all other showings, you will need to have public performance rights to show a movie.

Note-sharing websites

Instructors provide materials such as lecture slides, assignments and journal articles to help students learn in their courses. Often times, these materials are posted to Canvas. They are protected by copyright so your use of them has to comply with the copyright law and SFCC policies. 

Generally, these materials are provided to students for their own educational or research use. Students should not share them with other people or on the Internet without their instructor's permission.

On the other hand, if you take your own lecture notes (not verbatim or word-for-word of what your instructor said), you own copyright to your notes and can share them with other students. However, you should not share your exam answers or completed assignments that can help other students to cheat, as per SFCC's Student Code of Conduct. 

Copyright Information

Spokane Falls Community College Library is grateful to Rachel Bridgewater at Portland Community College, who created the original resource that this guide is adapted from.

"Copyright Resources" by Rachel BridgewaterPortland Community College is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0