United States copyright law (Title 17 US Code) affects the use and reproduction of copyrighted material by all members of the MIT community. Copyright law gives a copyright owner exclusive rights with respect to that owner's work; however, certain "fair use" limitations on those exclusive rights are provided in the law. Among these limitations are specific provisions that address the use of copyrighted material by libraries and by faculty in the course of their teaching responsibilities.
Copyright law applies to authored works regardless of medium and thus applies to digital and digitized works as well as more traditional media. Copyright laws, and the guidelines that have been developed to assist in their interpretation, generally restrict copying in terms of the number of copies that can be made and the length of the text that can be copied. The application of the concept of fair use, which does provide limited exemptions for certain educational and non-profit research uses, is critically dependent on the particular facts of the individual situation. For example, reproduction that results in the creation of substitutes for anthologies, collections, or compilations is severely restricted.
Other provisions of the copyright law cover the reproduction of sheet music for classroom use, the performance or display of copyrighted works in classrooms, public performances of music for which admission is charged, the use and reproduction of videotapes, sound recordings, and computer software. There is also an extensive set of provisions and guidelines that affect library copying, including reproduction for reserve use, interlibrary lending and borrowing, and preservation of library materials.
Federal copyright law has undergone significant revision during the past decade and continues to be the subject of legislative, administrative, and judicial activity. A number of useful internal resources are available to guide the MIT community, including the Copyright at MIT website.
The copyright policies and practices of the MIT Libraries, together with an extensive list of related print and digital sources, can be found at http://libraries.mit.edu/scholarly/publishing/ or requested from the Office of the Director of Libraries.
Inquiries related to the reproduction of copyrighted materials may be referred to the Director of the Libraries and the Office of Intellectual Property Counsel.