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Copyright & Intellectual Property: Copyright Overview

Information about copyright & intellectual property

Copyright Law

Copyright is explained as “a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U.S. Code) to the authors of ‘original works of authorship,’ including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works” by the United States Copyright Office. This protection is applied to both published and unpublished works. 

It is up to all members of the SUA community to know and abide by the copyright laws. Individuals breaking the copyright laws risk exposing the university and themselves to large fines. Willful copyright infringement carries a fine of up to $150,000 in civil statutory damages per item in the academic environment where there is no commercial gain (17 U.S.C. § 504 (c)(2)). However, with the new CASE act, this dollar amount may be much higher depending on the case, the law broken, and the individuals and work involved.

Although all library staff and patrons are advised to make a good faith effort and exercise good judgment to comply with the law, the responsibility of obeying copyright laws rests with each individual. It is in the SUA community’s interest as authors and prospective authors to respect copyright restrictions. The copyright law guides library service policies and procedures. However, these policies do not have the force of law. 

Can I Use It?

CASE Act (NEW Legislation)

In 2020, the U.S. Congress passed the CASE Act (Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act) which created the Copyright Claims Board (CCB) to review copyright infringement cases. This is a non-judicial tribunal that is now part of the Copyright Office. 


According to the Association of Research Libraries:

"The impact and value of the CCB may depend on the perspective of the viewer:

  • Creators of copyrighted works may view it favorably. Federal litigation is otherwise expensive, and the CCB purports to be more easily accessible for individual creators. The Copyright Office describes the CCB as an equitable way for creators who otherwise may not be able to afford to litigate their copyright infringement claims in federal court to adjudicate “small claims.”
  • Users of copyrighted works may bear new hardships. The CCB could incentivize frivolous claims (or claims about uses that would inherently be “fair uses”) against the campus community because it lowers the bar for claimants to file (i.e., claimants are not required to meet federal court filing standards). Proceeding in the CCB can also result in waiver or denial of many of the protections of normal litigation in a federal court, including right to a jury trial, Rule 11 (ethics/ bad faith) sanctions, complete discovery, certain procedural defenses, and most importantly, the right of judicial appeal."


For more information, please go to the ARL site here.

To review the full CASE Act, please visit here

Permitted Use: No Permission Required

The library pays annual institutional subscription fees for the SUA community to access electronic resources. As authorized users, current SUA students and employees are allowed to use the information for private study or share the link to the work with other authorized users without seeking permission. Such uses are permitted in the license agreement.

When information is accessible from a free website or a database subscribed to by the library, linking is the best practice. Because no copy is made in the process of linking, there is no need for concern about the copyright law. When sharing the information with other authorized users, providing a complete citation including a persistent Uniform Resource Locator (URL) is encouraged. The library staff offers help to anyone who wishes to obtain the durable URL for linking and sharing purposes.