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Copyright @ Whitman: Whitman Copyright Policy

Whitman College Copyright Policy

I.  Introduction

The copyright policy of Whitman College affirms the College’s commitment to comply with the United States law pertaining to copyright; to respect faithfully the property rights of authors and their assignees; to educate members of the campus community about copyright law; and to exercise vigorously the rights and responsibilities granted under this law.

Therefore this policy encourages all members of the community to publish their papers, books, and other works in order to share their knowledge openly with colleagues and the public.  The policy adheres to the long-standing academic tradition that creators of works own the copyrights in works resulting from their scholarly, pedagogical, and creative activities.  This principle is the foundation for our policy on copyright.

This principle also underlies the commitment of Whitman College to fostering an environment of respect for and responsible use of the intellectual property of others.  Whitman College is committed to helping members of the community comply with copyright laws by providing resources to help individuals make informed, careful, and situation-sensitive decisions about the lawful and fair use of work created by others.

It is the responsibility of members of the Whitman community to determine if their intended use of copyrighted materials is considered Fair Use and to seek permission from the appropriate copyright owner(s) when necessary.

II.  Application

This policy applies to all faculty (including those with temporary appointments), staff, and students of Whitman College.

III.  Library Exemption

Section 108 of the Copyright Act sets forth specific circumstances under which a qualifying library may reproduce materials or portions of materials.  Such reproductions are deemed so necessary and reasonable to the functioning of these libraries and to balance the exclusive rights of the copyright holder that prior permission of the copyright holder is not required.  In addition to Section 108 rights, a library may also exercise Fair Use rights under Section 107.

As a “qualifying library” Penrose Library qualifies for the exemptions in Section 108 of the Copyright Act and as such has developed policies to implement those exemptions.  Those policies and accompanying procedures are published on the Library’s website.

IV.  Use and “Fair Use” of Copyrighted Works

A.  Compliance with Copyright Laws

Whitman College expects all faculty, staff and students to make a reasonable effort in good faith to comply with copyright laws in their use of copyrighted materials.

B.  Fair Use of Copyrighted Works

Whitman College encourages faculty, staff and students to take full advantage of the Fair Use exception to the exclusive rights of copyright owners.  Before relying on the Fair Use exception, faculty, staff and students should educate themselves regarding the limits of fair use and should, in each instance, perform a careful, good-faith fair use analysis based on the four factors identified in Section 107 of the Federal Copyright Act.  Faculty, staff and students are strongly encouraged to document and retain their Fair Use analysis as a defense against claims of copyright infringement.

C.  Course Reserve Materials

The Library seeks to encourage Fair Use of copyrighted materials, balancing the research needs of faculty, students, staff and other patrons, while respecting the intellectual property rights of copyright holders and abiding by the pertinent laws governing usage of copyrighted materials.  Whitman College copyright compliance guidelines for Reserve materials are based on Title 17, U.S. Code, sec. 107.  All copied, scanned, and/or reproduced materials must meet the tests of brevity, spontaneity and cumulative effect.

D.  Assistance with Copyright Compliance

Because of the complexity of copyright law and, in particular, the Fair Use exception, Whitman College will provide resources to educate faculty, staff and students and help them make informed, careful and situation-sensitive decisions about the lawful and fair use of works created by others.

E.  Violation of Copyright Laws

Upon obtaining knowledge that material residing on its systems or networks is infringing or that its systems or networks are being used for infringing activities (or upon becoming aware of circumstances from which infringing activity is apparent), the College will act expeditiously to remove or disable access to the infringing materials and may deny the individuals responsible further access to its systems or networks.  In addition, members of the faculty or staff, or students, or other employed persons who violate copyright laws may be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with established procedures.  These procedures are described: for students, in the Whitman College Student Handbook; for faculty, in the Faculty Handbook; for staff, in the Whitman College Staff Handbook.

V.  Certification of Permitted Use

Individual faculty members are responsible for understanding the College’s Copyright Policy and shall be accountable for actions that violate it.  Faculty are responsible for consulting that information and applying it in accordance with the law.  The information contained on the College Copyright website includes tools to assist faculty in making judgments about permitted uses of copyrighted materials.

A.  Role of Academic Support Assistants

At no time will an academic support assistant reproducing or circulating copyright-protected material in accordance with a faculty member’s or supervisor’s written or verbal instructions be assumed liable for any failure to adhere to copyright law.  This protection does not apply to material distributed or reproduced by academic support assistants without the instruction, written or verbal, of a faculty member or supervisor, or to material distributed or reproduced by academic support assistants in a manner that does not reflect such instruction.

B.  Role of Student Employees

At no time will a student employee who is reproducing or circulating copyright-protected material in accordance with a faculty member’s or an academic support assistant’s written or verbal instructions be assumed liable for any failure to adhere to copyright law.  This protection does not apply to material distributed or reproduced by a student without the instruction, written or verbal, of a faculty member or an academic support assistant, or to material distributed or reproduced by a student in a manner that does not reflect such instruction.

C.  Academic Support Assistants, Student Employees, Administrative Staff

When employees, including support assistants and student employees operating in the capacity of academic or administrative support, carry out instructions by faculty or supervisory personnel to copy or otherwise reproduce or distribute copyright-protected material, those faculty or supervisory personnel, not the assistants, are responsible for ensuring compliance with copyright law.  If, however, any employees believe that tasks they are instructed to carry out are not in compliance with copyright law, they may pursue the following options:

    • Seek written certification of compliance from the originator of the task;
    • Seek guidance from a supervisor who did not originate the task;
    • Request that the faculty member or supervisory personnel obtain permission from that employee’s supervisor to carry out the task.

In all cases when academic support assistants, student employees in an academic support role, or other employees make a determination to reproduce or distribute copyright-protected material on their own initiative, they are expected to inform themselves of the policy of Whitman College for copyright compliance and conform to that policy.  The Copyright website of Whitman College includes tools to help any such employee make judgments about permitted uses of copyrighted materials.

VI.  Amendment of Copyright Policy

The College may amend this policy as it deems necessary or desirable, subject to applicable statutory and contractual restraints.


Approved by Whitman College President’s Council – March 28, 2009

Adapted with permission from “Copyright & The Claremont Colleges” 


Copyright infringement is the act of exercising, without permission or legal authority, one or more of the exclusive rights granted to the copyright holder under section 106 of the Copyright Act (Title 17 of the United States Code.)  These rights include the right to reproduce or distribute a copyrighted work.  In the file-sharing context, downloading or uploading substantial parts of copyrighted work without authority constitutes an infringement.

Penalties for copyright infringement include civil and criminal penalties.  In general, anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or "statuatory" damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed.  For "willful" infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed.  A court can, in its discretion, also assess costs and attorneys' fees.  For details, see Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504, 505.

Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense.

For more information, please see the web site of the U.S. Copyright Office, especially the FAQ's.

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