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Copyright & Fair Use: A Concise Introduction

A brief introduction to matters of copyright and fair use exemptions in an academic setting


This resource is designed to provide basic introductory information on copyright for educators and students at Southern Seminary and Boyce College.

The information provided here does not purport to supply legal advice nor is it intended to replace the advice of legal counsel.

The Ethical Use of Information

The student handbook of Southern Seminary indicates:

  • Academic dishonesty violates the integrity of Kingdom work and witness. The standard for academic integrity is violated by cheating, plagiarism or the misappropriation of library materials.
  • Plagiarism is the use or theft of intellectual property without attribution, both a moral and educational transgression. Students are required to affirm academic integrity in writing when submitting all course work: On my honor, I have neither given nor received improper assistance in completing this assignment. [The SBTS Honor Code]
The SBTS Student Handbook includes a section on plagiarism (Appendix B).


Copyright law governs those who may use original works of authorship and how such works may be used. Copyright law is grounded in the United States Constitution’s Copyright Clause (Article I, section 8, clause 8) which describes the power of Congress to “promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and anventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries." The Copyright Law of the United States is contained in Title 17 of the United States Code.

Given that the advancement of knowledge is inherent to copyright, there are specific limitations to the rights of copyright holders. At the same time, anyone wishing to use someone else's intellectual work (for example, in a paper or other publication; as a classroom handout; or even as material on a website), must respect the rights of copyright holders. The difficulty in navigating the complexities of copyright law is in striking the right balance between these rights and limitations. The purpose of this guide is to provide information that will help educator and student find this balance.

Copyright Clearance Center: Video