Understanding Copyright Risk in Education

Thom Rickert, CPCU, ARM, ARM-P, ARM-E, ARC, ARe
Senior Vice President , Primary Practice, Allied Public Risk, LLC
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Thom explains copyright risk in education and how the Fair Use Doctrine has established fair use as a right, not a privilege. Although the law doesn't specify how to apply fair use, it does follow a specific formula, according to a rule of reason. In determining if an educational institution is following fair use, there are four types of consideration:

  1. How is the work being used? Is it being used to teach or entertain students?
  2. What kind of work is it–factual information or creative?
  3. How much of the work is being used?
  4. What is the economic impact on the owner? This considers if the creator is losing out on any profits and if the work is being presented in the creators own way.

Technology has had a significant impact on fair use and copyright; with the main piece of legislation being the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), but there are four prominent exceptions applicable in education settings:

  1. Circumvention by non-profit libraries, archives and educational institutions
  2. Permits research
  3. Testing of technological devices designed to prevent access to internet material by minors
  4. Permits testing of computer systems or networks.

The DMCA also protects Internet Service Providers (ISP) from several factors including the liability of ISP subscriber activity. Thom also shares the legal penalties and costs that are incurred if an educational institution's staff violates fair use doctrine.

*The views and opinions expressed in the Public Risk Management Association (PRIMA) blogs/podcasts are those of each respective author/speaker. The views and opinions do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PRIMA.*

Thom Rickert, CPCU, ARM, ARM-P, ARM-E, ARC, ARe
Senior Vice President , Primary Practice, Allied Public Risk, LLC

Summary of Qualifications

Thom has enjoyed a long career in the insurance industry and also has extensive underwriting and marketing experience in all property and casualty lines of business, spanning multiple segments and industries. He has been responsible for implementing corporate compliance and efficiency projects and has served as a business leader for technology solutions in policy administration, underwriting, channel management and business development analytics.


As an emerging risk specialist, Thom extends his view to trends influencing the future of risk and insurance. He is also responsible for building and cultivating a high-performance marketing discipline that creates value and relevance in the public sector marketplace.

Business Experience

Thom has held various staff and management positions in underwriting, marketing, sales, systems administration and training & education for U.S. and internationally domiciled commercial insurance carriers and brokers. He has also served as president and chief operating officer of an independent commercial lines insurance agency.

ERM Experience

Thom holds The Institutes' Associate in Risk Management - Enterprise-wide Risk Management (ARM-E) designation.

Professional Affiliations

Public Risk Management Association (PRIMA), Risk Management Society (RIMS), Governmental Finance Officers Association (GFOA), Association of Governmental Risk Pools (AGRiP)


Trinity University (San Antonio, TX) - BA - Philosophy and History
Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU)
Associate in Risk Management (ARM), Associate in Risk Management – Public Entities (ARM-P), Associate in Risk Management – Enterprise-Wide Risk Management (ARM-E)
Associate in Insurance Regulation and Compliance
Associate in Reinsurance
SIX SIGMA – Green Belt Certified

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