This site contains general information about copyright law to assist University of Tennessee faculty, staff, and students in understanding this complex area of the law. It does NOT provide legal advice. Legal advice can only be given and received in direct consultation with counsel, based upon all facts and circumstances involved in a specific instance. Faculty and staff who have questions about copyright related to their University activities should contact Frank Lancaster (865 974-3245) at the Office of the General Counsel
Copyright is an ever-changing and ever-challenging area of the law. There are many areas in which the law is not clear. The widespread use of computer and communications technologies has added new dimensions to the production and use of copyrighted materials in educational institutions. With each new opportunity to learn in the electronic classroom comes the possibility of infringing some else's copyright or having one's own copyright infringed. As Universities, faculty members, authors, traditional publishers, and electronic publishers develop new methods of communicating, their interests occasionally conflict. This area of the law is presently dynamic. Various groups are attempting to persuade Congress that copyright law should protect their interests. These groups do not agree on the nature and extent of this protection, however. Until they do, or until Congress takes action to change the current laws, this remains a murky area.
The purpose of this page is to help University of Tennessee faculty, staff, and students identify some of the basic concepts about copyright in general and in the educational setting in particular and to provide access to additional information. This page does not establish a new copyright policy for the University.
The following guidelines have not been officially adopted by the University of Tennessee. However, they are generally regarded as a "safe harbor" for using copyrighted material in the classroom without permission. In fact, several courts have approved of these guidelines, especially the Guidelines for Classroom Copying, and use them to analyze whether the use of copyrighted material without permission would be allowed.