Legal and Copyright Considerations

Chapters 16 and 35 of the Wisconsin State Statutes regulate state printing and the purchasing of state printing. The publications office is responsible for the procurement of all university printing paid by university funds. Obtaining printing without the authorization of the publications office may result in requiring a person to pay for such printing from personal funds.

Student Publications

Printing that is “published by students of the University of Wisconsin System and which is funded solely from student fees or student organization income” is exempt from Chapter 35, although student organizations have the option to utilize the publications office and Fast Copy services with the permission of their advisers and the appropriate organization coordinator and on a time-available basis. For more information regarding student publication guidelines, contact Student Affairs at 715-425-4444.

Copyright Considerations

The University of Wisconsin-River Falls conscientiously follows all copyright restrictions. The copyright law (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, universities can make copies of copyrighted materials for use in private study, scholarship, research and limited classroom distribution.

Copyright Law

Under the copyright law, the copyright owner has the exclusive right to reproduce and distribute the work. Copyright begins in the act of composition and belongs to the author for life and to his/her heirs for 50 years thereafter. You, as an author, have your words protected whether published or unpublished.

The “Fair Use Exception” permits someone to copy without the copyright owner’s permission for purposes such as criticism, comment, teaching, scholarship or research. In determining whether the use is a fair use the law requires consideration of the following factors: 

  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; and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. (17 U.S.C.sec.107)

The determination of fair use is made on a case-by-case basis. It is important to note that the law applies even to material distributed free to the students. It holds the course instructor responsible if the copying is done at his or her request, even if it is an outside copy center that reproduces and distributes the work. UW-River Falls’ policy is that teaching staff are expected to secure permission from the copyright owners unless the intended use clearly is permissible under the “fair use” exception.

Permissible Copying

The U.S. Copyright Office publishes some helpful information about permissible use of copyrighted materials. Web versions of these publications can be found as follows:

Copyright Basics from the U.S. Copyright Office

Section 107 (fair use) of the Copyright Law

Circular 21 — Reproduction of copyrighted works by educators and librarians

Textbook Services is a good resource when you have questions about making course packs in lieu of using a textbook for class. For additional information, contact the reference desk in Chalmer Davee Library.

Contact Us

University Communications
and Marketing

M-F, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
120 North Hall