As part of the Alabama Community College System, Southern Union has been an integral part of the educational landscape in East Central Alabama since its inception.

A view of an SUSCC building from between two columns in the foreground.

Southern Union State Community College was formed on August 12, 1993, when the Alabama Community College System Board of Trustees effectively merged Southern Union State Junior College and Opelika State Technical College. Each partner brought to the merger a history rich in tradition of service to students.

The older of the two colleges, Southern Union, was chartered as Bethlehem College on June 2, 1922, by the Southern Christian Convention of Congregational Christian Churches. From its opening with 51 students in a single building on September 13, 1923, until 1964, the college remained church related, operating as Piedmont Junior College, Southern Union College and The Southern Union College. On October 1, 1964, the college was deeded to the state of Alabama and became part of the newly-created system of two-year colleges. The name of the college became Southern Union State Junior College, and it achieved accreditation in 1970 from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Opelika State Technical College was created by an act of the Alabama State Legislature on May 3, 1963, in response to a recognized need to establish vocational/technical colleges in industrial areas of Alabama. The college opened on January 10, 1966, as Opelika State Vocational Technical Institute but was designated Opelika State Technical College on August 22, 1973, and was accredited in 1971 by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Today, the college serves more than 5,000 students each semester from its campuses in Wadley, Valley and Opelika. Its three-faceted educational emphasis is on academic programs for transferability, technical programs for specialized career competencies and health sciences programs for specialized training in the health field. Our students obtain unprecedented levels of success, whether transferring, taking licensure exams or finding employment. Most importantly, at Southern Union you will be served by a student-centered faculty and staff who are here to assist you in every aspect of the college experience.


Southern Union State Community College, an open admission, public two-year college and member of the Alabama Community College System, provides quality and relevant teaching and learning in academic, technical, and health science programs that are affordable, accessible, equitable, and responsive to the diverse needs of our students, community, business, industry, and government.

Non-Discrimination Policy

It is the policy of the Alabama Community College System Board of Trustees and Southern Union State Community College, a postsecondary institution under its control, that no person shall, on the grounds of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, or age, be excluded from participation in, be denied benefit of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program, activity, or employment.

Intellectual Property Rights and Copyright Policies

Intellectual Property Rights:
The Intellectual Property Rights policy complies with the Southern Union State Community College Copyright Policy and Alabama State Board Policy 321.01: Copyright, Trademark, and Patent Ownership.  In designing its policy, Southern Union State Community College uses as a touchstone SACSCOC principle for accreditation 3.2.14, which reads:

“The institution’s policies are clear concerning ownership of materials, compensation, copyright issues, and the use of revenue derived from creation and production of all intellectual property. This (policy) applies to students, faculty, and staff.

Ownership of Materials:

As a general principle, Southern Union State Community College claims ownership of all educational materials involved in teaching classes, at all locations and online. Such ownership includes, in particular:

  • Test banks
  • Syllabus
  • Web courses
  • Hybrid courses

However, Southern Union State Community College cedes control of the following materials:

  • Assessments
  • Class notes
  • Presentations
  • Handouts

The exceptions to this rule are materials that are produced in the course of duties based on the employment contract or program agreement and are intended for the institution to copyright, trademark, or patent.

Rules of Intellectual Property for Students:
All student work submitted as a requirement for course credit is the intellectual property of that student and the student may use or publish his/her this work without any authorization from the College.

The student must get written consent from the College in order to use or publish course related material when the student is not an author or collaborator.

An employee must get permission from a student to use that student’s work as a sample/model. At the student’s request, the work will be published anonymously, or under a pseudonym.

The Use of Revenue derived from Creation and Production of Intellectual Property Funds derived from the creation, production, and sale of all intellectual property are placed in the College’s Unrestricted Fund and are invested in the institution’s instructional activities among other functional areas.

If an employee wishes to develop original materials or an original online course, using his/her own personal resources and personal time, then he/she would retain 100 % of the intellectual property rights.

  • If the employee wished to make that material or course “commercially viable,” in other words, use the material or course for another institution of higher education or sell that material or course, he/she would keep 100 % of the royalties. If the employee wishes to make materials or an online course he/she has created as an employee of Southern Union State Community College “commercially marketable,” the following guidelines would apply:
  • He/she would retain only the intellectual rights to the assessments, notes, presentations, and handouts and would be entitled to 100% of the royalties for the materials or the course developed from these resources.
  • The College would retain all other intellectual property rights.
  • The employee must obtain prior written approval from the College president to utilize materials or a course at another institution in accordance with State Board Guidelines for Policy 615.01-Conflict of Interest. As previously stated, students have the right to publish any of their own creative work and are entitled to 100% of the royalties for these works.


General Information
The purpose of the College copyright information is to provide educational information that communicates the Copyright Act to students and employees of Southern Union State Community College.  Although every effort has been made to provide accurate information, this information is not intended to provide legal advice about copyright.

According to the U.S. Copyright Office, copyright "is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code) to the authors of 'original works of authorship,' including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works." For more details, see the website of the U.S. Copyright Office at www.copyright.gov.

In general, Section 106 of the Copyright Act of 1976 gives the copyright owner exclusive rights to the following, allowing him or her to authorize others likewise: to reproduce the works in copies or phonorecords, to prepare derivative works based upon the work, to distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending, to perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures, and other audiovisuals, and in the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.

Authors of visual art also have the rights of attribution and integrity, as described in Section 106A of the Copyright Act of 1976. Additional information regarding the registration of works of visual arts can be found in Circular 40, "Copyright Regulation for Works of the Visual Arts,"
prepared by the U.S. Copyright Office.

While it is illegal for anyone to violate any of the rights established for copyright owners, there are limitations or exceptions to these rights. Of particular interest to educators and students are four exceptions under certain conditions: works in the public domain, "Fair Use," the Digital
Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and the "TEACH Act."

Public Domain
Copyrighted works may eventually fall into the "public domain" and, at that point, may be freely used without permission. In general, such works include those for which the copyright has expired or has been lost, works produced by the federal government, and works that lack sufficient originality to qualify for copyright protection (e.g., standard calendars, charts, rulers, etc.).

Fair Use
The "Fair Use" doctrine allows educators and students to use copyrighted materials without seeking prior approval to certain types of resources under certain conditions. The fact alone that the intended use is educational does not remove restrictions; the "four fair use factors" must be
considered in total:

1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
2. The nature of the copyrighted work;
3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
4.  The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

"Fair Use" analysis is based on reasonable efforts by reasonable individuals and, as a result, is sometimes subjective. Educators enjoy some protection from infringement lawsuits because of Section 504(c)(2) of the Copyright Act. This protection is called "the good faith fair use
defense" and is based on "a reasonable, good faith determination" by educational employees that their use of copyrighted materials falls under the exceptions for "fair use": i.e., employees, acting within the scope of their employment, who make a reasonable, good faith decisions that
their use of copyrighted materials falls under the "Fair Use" doctrine, are protected from statutory damages in court cases that find copyright infringements have occurred if they believe and have reasonable grounds for believing that their use was fair.

Southern Union State Community College students are expected to act responsibly and legally by applying "Fair Use" principles to the completion of their activities and projects. The College does not assume legal responsibility for violations of applicable copyright law. Student employees are subject to all College policies relating to faculty and staff.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)
In 1998, Congress revised copyright provisions to meet the demands of the digital age and to offer certain protections to educational entities that offer online resources, thus qualifying as Online Service Providers (OSPs). More specifically, the DMCA:

  • Prohibits the "circumvention" of "technological protection measures" (e.g., password or form of encryption) used by a copyright holder to restrict access to its material;
  • Prohibits the manufacture or offering of any device or service designed to defeat such protective measures;
  • Makes no change to the "Fair Use" doctrine and expressly states that valuable activities based on the "Fair Use" doctrine (e.g., reverse engineering, security testing, privacy protection, and encryption research) do not constitute illegal "anti-circumvention";
  • Exempts any OSP or carrier of digital information (including libraries) from copyright liability because of the content of a transmission made by a user of the provider's or carrier's system (e.g., the user of a library system or College network)
  • Establishes a mechanism for a provider to avoid copyright infringement liability due to the storage of infringing information on an OSP's own computer system, or the use of "information location tools" and hyperlinks, if the provider acts "expeditiously to remove or disable access to" infringing material identified in a formal notice by the copyright holder.

Title 17 of the U.S. Code and more recently the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, 105 PL 304 also outline that it is illegal to distribute copyrighted music in any form, including digital mp3 files, without a license to do so from the copyright holder. It is a violation of College policies to
use the campus network for illegal activities or in a manner that consumes capacity and services needed for instruction, research, and other core purposes. The individual using electronic resources (e.g., computers, campus network, Internet access, etc.) is responsible for adhering to all College polices and guidelines as well as all copyright and legal restrictions. Southern Union State Community College has appointed Beth Barks as the College’s Copyright Agent to receive notification of claimed infringement from a copyright owner as required by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

The 2002 Teach Act
The 2002 Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act updates U.S. Copyright law to extend privileges for legally using copyrighted materials with distance education technology and clarifies terms and conditions under which educational institutions can use copyrighted materials in an online educational format without permission from the copyright owner.

TEACH allows instructors and students at an accredited, nonprofit educational institution to transmit performances and displays of copyrighted works as part of a course if certain conditions are met. If these conditions are not or cannot be met, use of the material must qualify as fair use
or permission from the copyright holder(s) must be obtained. The provisions of the TEACH Act require certain administrative and technological restrictions on the distribution of copyrighted materials as well as education of instructors and students in copyright requirements.

Some of the key elements of the TEACH Act include:

  • Limit access to copyrighted works to only those students currently enrolled in the class;
  • Limit access for the time needed to complete the class session or course;
  • Inform instructors, students, and staff of copyright laws and policies;
  • Prevent further copying or redistribution of copyrighted works;
  • Do not interfere with copy protection mechanisms;
  • Apply "Fair Use" doctrine to print and digital environments;
  • Apply "Fair Use" doctrine even when there are no established guidelines for particular uses of copyrighted materials.

Summary of Penalties for Copyright Violation
Students and employees should be aware that unauthorized distribution of copyrightedmaterial, including peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject them to civil and criminal liabilities.

Copyright infringement is the act of exercising, without permission or legal authority, one or more of the exclusive rights granted to the copyright owner under Section 106 of the Copyright Act (Title 17 of the U.S. Code). These rights include the right to reproduce or distribute a copyrighted work. In the file-sharing context, downloading or uploading substantial parts of a 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 "statutory" 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 ofup to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense. In addition, students found to be in violation of copyright laws will be disciplined in accordance with the College’s Code of Conduct found in the College catalog. Employees found to be in violation of copyright laws will be disciplined in accordance with the College’s Personnel Handbook.

Legal Alternatives to Illegal Downloading
The College recommends students and employees utilize the information provided by Educause at their Legal Source of Online Content site at www.educause.edu/legalcontent to determine legal alternatives to illegal downloading or otherwise acquiring copyrighted material. The site is
a regularly maintained and updated list of legal content sources for use by students and employees. Any questions about this information should be directed to the College’s Copyright Agent.

Copyright and College Web Pages
Web pages hosted by Southern Union State Community College are subject to all copyright policies. Any individual who wishes to post copyrighted materials on his/her web page or a College webpage is advised to secure, in advance, in writing, permission of the copyright holder and provide a copy of that documentation to the College's Copyright Agent. Anyone who posts copyrighted materials on his/her web page or a College web page without first securing and providing proof of permission from the copyright holder is individually liable for copyright infractions.

Copyright and Distance Education
Faculty and staff are encouraged to secure copyright permission, a license, or a legal basis for use of someone else's intellectual property without permission before using the material. Instructors involved in distance education may use copyrighted materials that meet the following as prescribed by the TEACH Act:

  1. Avoid use of commercial works that are sold or licensed for purposes of digital distance education;
  2. Avoid use of pirated works or works where it is otherwise known that the copy was not lawfully made;
  3. Limit use of works to an amount and duration comparable to what would be displayed or performed in a live physical classroom setting;For example, TEACH does not authorize the digital transmission of textbooks or coursepacks to students.
  4. Supervise the digital performance or display, make it an integral part of a class session, and make it part of a systematic mediated instructional activity.  For example, instructors should interactively use the copyrighted work as part of a class assignment in the distance education course. The copyrighted work should not be an entertainment add-on or passive background/optional reading. Enrolled students may post to distance education class pages as long as there is actual supervision by the instructor.  Actual supervision does not require prior approval for posting nor does it require realtime or constant presence of the instructor.
  5. Access to software tools provided by the College limits use to the students enrolled in the course, prevents downstream copying by those students, and prevents these students from retaining the works for longer than a “class session.”
  6. Notify students that the works may be subject to copyright protection and that they may not violate the legal rights of the copyright holder through the posting of the message below on all distance education class sites: The materials on this course web site are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for the purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated.

Student Works and Copyright
Faculty members should be aware that students own the copyright to their work, including papers and assignments they have completed; therefore student works are protected by copyright regulations. Faculty should have written permission from the student copyright holder to use their works. Any student work that is to be placed on reserve must be accompanied by the written and signed permission of the student to do so (specifying name, contact information, title of item[s], statement giving permission, and dates included).

Plans to Effectively Combat Copyright Violations
Southern Union State Community College utilizes the following strategies to effectively combat copyright violations:

  • Uses the services of the Alabama Supercomputer Authority to deter peer to peer copyright infringement. The Supercomputer Authority provides content filtering services to prevent peer to peer connections as well as proxy connections to bypass such filters.
  • Informs students and employees through annual notifications as well as information and resources on the College website, College Catalog and Student Handbook, and Employee Handbook.
  • Reviews on a periodic basis of the College’s policies and practices by the College Copyright Agent who monitors and examines an any violation in order to improve College policies or practices.

Administrative Organizational Chart
Instructional Organizational Chart


While every effort has been made to ensure that the information on this web site is valid, we cannot guarantee its absolute accuracy, currency, or reliability. This web site is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice.