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Copyright at the University of Northern Iowa

Rod Library Copyright Policies

Members of the UNI community are bound by law to honor the copyrights of intellectual property creators.  At the same time, as members of a university, UNI faculty, staff, and students have certain fair use rights which give some latitude for use of copyrighted materials in educational endeavors.  Rod Library is the university’s central point of access to intellectual materials, many of them copyrighted.  In order to honor copyright while extending to the university community the benefits of educational fair use, Rod Library has created policies which attempt to balance the restrictions of copyright law and the educational benefits of fair use.  This guide makes available the set of Rod Library copyright policies for your review.



The University of Northern Iowa Rod Library has contracts with numerous vendors and publishers that provide access to UNI users for hundreds of electronic resources, including databases, electronic journals, and full text, etc.  The cost of these electronic resources can range from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars per year. 

The contracts or license agreements signed by Rod Library dictate which persons can use the resource and for what purposes.   If ANYONE violates the terms of the license agreement, the licensor can choose to suspend access for all UNI users temporarily.  They can also permanently remove all access to their product if they feel the violation sufficiently serious.

Rod Library has some suggestions of proper and improper use of the electronic resources.






making limited print or electronic copies (such as single articles)

systematic or substantial printing, copying or downloading (such as entire journal issues or books)



using for personal, instructional or research needs

selling or re-distributing content, or providing it to an employer



sharing with UNI faculty, staff and students

sharing with people other than UNI faculty, staff and students



posting links to specific content

posting actual content or articles to web sites or listservs


modifying, altering, or creating derivative works

Please make sure to acknowledge your source on any published or unpublished document when you use data found on electronic resources.

GREY AREAS: Some resources allow inclusion for electronic reserves, course packs, and multiple copies for classroom use and interlibrary lending. Others explicitly forbid one or more of these activities.

Sharing with non-UNI users:   This means peer-to-peer informal sharing for research, teaching and educational purposes.  For example, if you work with a colleague at another institution, and wish to make him/her aware of an article of mutual interest, you may send that article in print or electronically if the publisher permits this use.  Some publishers do not allow sharing with non-UNI users, and only allow this activity with other authorized users within the University of Northern Iowa community.

Public Copier/Scanner Guidelines

Photocopier/Scanner Guidelines


Warning concerning Copyright Restrictions 

 Fair Use Indicates you can make: 

  • One copy of one article per issue of a periodical or newspaper.
  • One copy of one chapter per book if the book is divided into chapters, or one copy of 10% of the book if it is not divided into chapters.
  • One copy of 10% of a piece of music.
  • One copy of one poem per books, up to 250 lines.
  • One copy of no more than two pages from a children's book (this includes pictures, paintings, and drawings).
  • One copy of one photograph, chart, or graph per book, unless these are within the context of an article or chapter and the entire text of the article is copied as well; then we can make one copy of each photograph, chart, or graph within that article or chapter.


 Penalties for infringement are very harsh: the court can award up to $150,000 for each separate act of infringement plus a jail term.


 Copying/Scanning of books in their entirety for personal use or resale is illegal.

Interlibrary Loan Copyright Guidelines

Video Licensing Rights

Videos purchased for the Rod Library collection automatically come with licensing rights that govern how the videos can be used.  Rod Library purchases additional licensing rights for some titles in the collection.  In the notes field of each title the specific licensing right will be displayed.  These rights will include "Home and Classroom Use," "Public Performance Rights," "Distance Education/ICN" use, "Cable Casting" and "Video Streaming" rights. To determine what rights the library has purchased for a particular title, perform a search in the Library Catalog for the desired title.  If you have any questions the staff at the Library Services Desk will be happy to assist you.  It will look like this in the catalog:

"HOME AND CLASSROOM USE" is the most common license applied to video material.  These videos should be restricted to private showings in the home to a "normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances." The only exception to this is the "face-to-face" teaching exemption.

"DISTANCE EDUCATION/ICN RIGHTS" allow viewing at University authorized remote locations, by students currently enrolled as distance learners, via high quality, full-motion video which is shown over an educational closed-circuit e-learning system such as eLearning, etc. This is a password-protected environment.

"VIDEO STREAMING RIGHTS" pertain to converting the VHS or DVD media to a digital file that is placed on our campus' on-demand media delivery server. The server is accessed by a url and can be password-protected so only a select group of students and faculty can view it on the university's or the students' computers. It can be restricted in various ways: i.e., for a particular class, or made available only during a specific period of time, such as one semester.

"CABLECASTING" Our campus has the opportunity to share an educational access channel through a local cable television provider. This channel is broadcast as a public service to subscribers within a single community for viewing.

"PUBLIC PERFORMANCE" rights grant legal rights to publicly show a Video/DVD/Blu-Ray/Film.  According to the U.S. copyright law (Title 17, United States Code, Section 110), a performance is public if it is in a public place or if it is in any place if "a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its acquaintances" is gathered there. 

Here are some general guidelines* to determine if you need to obtain public performance rights.  The need for Public Performance rights is not dependant upon admission fees.




  • if the screening is , such as showing a foreign-language film to the community for cultural enrichment open to the public
  • if privately viewing the film in your room with friends
  • if the screening is in a where access is not restricted, such as an instructor showing a film to a class for curriculum-related purposes in a public or unrestricted-access location public space
  • if an instructor is showing the film to officially registered students in a classroom, where content of film directly relates to course


  • if persons attending are of family and acquaintances, such as showing a film to a club or organization, or showing a film for class but inviting others to attend outside the normal circle


*examples courtesy of Williams College Library