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Copyright and Fair Use Policies

Fair use

It is the policy of the college to comply with the Copyright Law of the United States of America, as found in Title 17 of the United States Code, guiding itself by the Fair Use provisions, sometimes referred to as the Four Factors. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use, the factors to be considered shall include:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work

The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors. The college is also committed to assisting members of the Vassar community in interpreting legal requirements in order to assure the widest possible legal access to knowledge in keeping with Vassar’s mission: the advancement of learning through instruction in the liberal arts, free intellectual inquiry, and independent research.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)

The 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) seeks to reform United States Copyright Laws in order to deal appropriately with issues created by the emergence of digital media. This law, along with other federal laws and Vassar College policy, prohibit the distribution of copyrighted materials without the permission of the owner. The sharing of copyrighted materials through electronic means (i.e., file-sharing programs such as Kazaa) is considered a violation of these regulations.

The DMCA requires that the college designate a copyright compliance officer to investigate alleged violations of copyright by members of the Vassar community. The copyright compliance officer at Vassar is the dean of the faculty, who will be notified by any party accusing a member of the Vassar College community of copyright infringement. Should the copyright compliance officer be notified of possible violation by a bona fide copyright holder, or their authorized representative, the following procedure will be executed: The copyright compliance officer (1) will determine whether the accused individual is in violation of copyright; (2) will order that the 156 individual cease and desist in distributing the copyrighted material; and (3) will order that the copyrighted files be removed from the computer.

Vassar College is rigorous in its compliance with the DMCA, and suggests that members of the Vassar College community familiarize themselves with the law. Those who violate the law do so at their own risk, and face whatever civil or criminal action may be taken against them, as well as sanctions by the appropriate college body.