Copyright Issues

Examples of situations requiring a special license or permission from copyright holder:

  • Use of cartoons or logos for flyers or party themes
  • Showing movies at a club or residence hall activity
  • Staging a published play
  • Sharing computer software or music
  • Use of music for events, performances and the distribution and/or sale of video with music.


The Fair Use Doctrine (1978) of the Copyright Act governs the making of photocopies of copyrighted material. Photocopies may be made for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research as long as the reproduction or distribution is made without any purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage. Middlebury College will follow the federal law in dealing with violations of the copyright code.


DVDs may be shown, without license, in the home (or dorm room) or in certain narrowly defined face-to-face teaching activities. Non-classroom use in public places (i.e. TV lounge, classroom), regardless of whether an admission fee is charged, requires a license (see below). Willful infringement for the purposes of commercial or financial gain is a federal crime and is punishable as a felony. Even inadvertent violations are subject to substantial civil damages.

Films or videos screened for entertainment purposes, or for which the College has non-theatrical public performance rights, may be advertised and promoted only on campus (which includes WRMC-FM, the Campus, and the alumni magazine). None of this promotion may say that the public is invited, nor will there be separate admission prices for ID and non-ID card holders. In general, all off-campus promotion is prohibited, including posters and flyers, unless for those specific titles for which the College has obtained rights.


When recording a CD, it is required that a group pay a statutory fee (Compulsory Mechanical Recording Right) through the Harry Fox Agency.  Only after paying this fee can a group legally sell the songs on the CD.  Check out for more information.


Use of the College's Name, Logos, Images, and Other Service or Trademarks

Middlebury College has obtained service mark and trademark registrations on a variety of College names and logos such as Middlebury College, Middlebury College Panthers, Bread Loaf, Bread Loaf School of English, etc. 

Only recognized and registered student organizations may use the Middlebury College name in their title.

Student organizations wishing to use the College's name or logo must use either the College Bookstore, Forth and Goal or another approved vendor.  Please check with Student Activities before purchasing.  

Whenever these marks are used, they should be noted as being registered marks and vendors must obtain permission to produce items bearing these marks and images. It is recommended, but not required, that marked or logo'ed merchandise be purchased or ordered through the College Book Store.

If you are planning on using any of these logos or marks in communications, please check with the Communications Office in advance.

The Assistant Treasurer and Director of Business Services Office at x5504 is responsible for monitoring the use of these marks and protecting the College's registrations. Should you need to obtain permission to use the College's name and images for promotional purposes, please contact this office.


Contact: JJ Boggs—x3103

Sharing Music & Videos: Your Responsibilities with Respect to Copyright Law

Many members of the Middlebury community have questions about the sharing of music and movies in digital format over the Internet. These policies and procedures describe how Middlebury College handles alleged copyright violations concerning file sharing. You should understand the risks of certain types file sharing given potential legal action.

Peer-to-Peer Programs (P2P)

Spurred by the widespread use of the Internet, P2P programs make it easy to share music, video, games and other files without regard to the restrictions placed on that material by the copyright owners.

Most commercially produced music, movies, games and software are copyrighted and are not to be freely shared without permission. This is the law.

Protect Yourself: Do it Legally

Members of our community must follow college policies for appropriate use of technology resources under the law as described in the College Handbook. see: Responsible Use of Computing and Network Service and FacilitiesNetwork Policies.

Legitimate means to share and acquire music and videos include services that provide options to buy individual tracks & videos (e.g., iTunes, Amazon); or subscription services (e.g., Napster). Some sites that advertise "free downloads" may not offer legal sharing; others offer content freely in order to promote new albums, videos, or other artistic creativity.

Sources for legal downloading may be found at:

RIAA's Music Matters list of legal music sites

File sharing software resident on your computer may make your audio and video files available for uploading over the Internet without your knowledge or permission. For more information on how to remove a file sharing application, please contact the Technology Help Desk at extension 2200.

Copyright Law

Copyright law is complicated and its interpretation can be controversial. Title 17, United States Code governs the making of reproductions and performance (including transmission over the internet) of copyrighted material regardless of the format of that material. Under the law, you are responsible not to violate the rights of copyright holders.

In most situations, permission needs to be obtained from the original copyright holder such as the publisher, author, or performer before a copy can be legally made.

In some situations, portions of works may be made for personal, educational and research use under "fair use" guidelines. see: Copyright and Fair Use Guidelines

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) also spells out protection for copyright holders and actions internet service providers (including Middlebury College) must follow if an alleged copyright infringement takes place (see below).

If you distribute copyrighted music and videos you are putting yourself at risk of facing civil or criminal actions in federal court if you have not acquired appropriate permisisons.

The potential consequences of illegally sharing copyrighted material over the Internet are serious and costly.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) specifies procedures that Middlebury College must follow when notified that an individual using our network is violating copyright laws. If the copyright holder contacts Middlebury about a violation, if we are able to trace the network address for the alleged time of violation, we notify the user of that network address, and require removal of the offending material from the computer. For repeated notifications, we block network access from the identified network address.


The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is known to send pre-litigation settlement letters to internet service providers (including hundreds of colleges and universities across the U.S.) to forward to College students, suggesting payment of hundreds of dollars per song allegedly acquired illegally via the internet, instead of facing a possible lawsuit. If Middlebury College receives such letters, LIS will attempt to forward them to the right users. The settlement letters contain an internet address of a computer (such as identified by the RIAA that downloads or uploads copyrighted music files.

If the College receives a notice to subpoena the names of people who are sharing music over the internet, LIS will immediately contact College legal counsel for advice on how to proceed. We may be required to provide the name of the alleged violator who is using our network. These subpoenas can lead to lawsuits, substantial financial penalties and perhaps jail time. Typically, if copyright infringement claims are settled out-of-court, the costs can be several thousand dollars per song, totaling tens of thousands of dollars per lawsuit.

If a copyright holder files suit, the individual has the right to claim that the material is not protected by copyright and then a legal process begins between the individual and the copyright owner. If you receive a pre-litigation settlement letter or a subpoena, immediately contact your own legal counsel.

Learn more!

The recording industry perspective: RIAA

Concerned about public policy, the law and your rights? Visit the Electronic Music Foundation.

Retaining Your Rights as an Author

When a work is published, you may give up your rights to the copying and distribution of your own work.

If you contract with a publisher, the publisher typically controls the publication of your original work and assumes copyright of the work. Although this saves you much of the burden of advertising, producing, and distributing your work, you may give up some or all of the rights you originally held that directly affect your role as educator and scholar. 
For example, unless you receive permission from the publisher, and depending upon a fair use judgment, you may no longer have the right to :

  • authorize copies of your work for inclusion in a course pack
  • place a digital copy of your work on eReserves, a course web site (e.g. Moodle), or on the college's or a professional society's web site or digital archive
  • distribute a copy (in print or via email or the internet) to colleagues and students .

What can you do to retain your rights when having a worked published?

  • Negotiate with a publisher to retain your rights in connection to any personal, professional or non-profit educational activities for which you may want to make and control copies of your work
    • Add an "author amendment" or "author addendum" to the publishing agreement to retain rights.  More resources are available on our Author Rights Agreements & Addenda page
    • Grant the College basic rights for use of your work on its web sites (Moodle, eReserves, etc.).
  • Explicity retain ownership of your content
    • Grant only those rights that the publisher strictly requires to publish the work.
    • Keep all other rights, specifically those of value to you (such as making unlimited copies for educational purposes at the College or elsewhere).
  • Read all the agreements carefully before you sign them.


  • Negotiate to keep those rights which are important to you. 
    Having raised the issue of your authorial rights, send the publisher a copy of the author amendment or addendum that you would like to include in your contract.
  • Once you have reached agreement on the language of the provisions, write a cover letter acknowledging the publisher's cooperation and noting the inclusion of the amendment/addendum. Then mail the contract, amendment, and cover letter to the publisher.
  • Get a signed acceptance of your amendment confirmed by the publisher. 
    Keep a copy of all paperwork for your records.
  • Even if you are unable to obtain the right to post your work to your web site or institutional repository now, the publisher may grant those rights in the future. Retain a copy of your work so it may be easily posted at a later date.

Author Rights Agreements & Addenda

Author publication agreements may be submitted to your publisher in order to retain rights to make copies of your article or other scholarly/intellectual work (e.g., to use in your courses, on your own web site, and the College's website). For a brief video introduction to this practice, watch here, or take a look at our guide to Retaining Your Rights As An Author.

  • Copyright Management Center author addenda
    Copyright Advisory Office (Columbia University)

  • Information about what rights publishers offer to authors, related to posting articles and other content on the web (SHERPA/RoMEO)
    SHERPA=Securing a Hybrid Environment for Research Preservation and Access
    RoMEO=Rights Metadata for Open archiving
    Search and View Publisher's Open Access policies:

When completing the SPARC / Science Commons online process to generate an Author Addendum, you have the following options:

Access - Reuse gives you sufficient rights to post a copy of the published version of your article (usually in pdf form) online immediately to a site that does not charge for access to the article. Primarily, this would mean posting to sites such as a university digital library or a disciplinary repository, such as the National Library of Medicine's PubMed Central server, or, of course, to your own web site.

Under Access - Reuse, you also retain sufficient rights to grant to the reading public a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial license. A Creative Commons license specifies uses that the author permits the reader to make with the article. Under this option, you can grant to the public the right to re-use or re-post your article so long as you are given credit as the author and so long as the reader's use is non-commercial. (For those familiar with theSPARC Author's Addendum, this option provides for retention of the same rights.)


Immediate Access gives you sufficient rights to post a copy of the published version of your article (usually in pdf form) online immediately to a site that does not charge for access to the article. (This is essentially the same provision as is in the MIT Copyright Amendment (DOCX file), available from the MIT Faculty Open Access Policy page.


Delayed Access treats the final version of your manuscript and the published version of your article differently. Under this option, you have the right immediately to post your final version of the article, as edited after peer review,to a site that does not charge for access to the article. With respect to the published version of your article, you can post it to a site that does not charge for access, but you must arrange not to make the article available to the public until six months after the date of publication.


(above information adapted from SPARC/Science Commons web sites under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial license)

What about Copyright?