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Frequently Asked Questions

How should I handle requests for information?

Any person receiving a request for academic records, health records, counseling service records, employment records, student account records, a subpoena, court order or any legal documents should immediately contact the Office of the General Counsel at 757.226.2797. You should not attempt to handle any request for information on your own. If unsure about any request for information, please contact the Office of the General Counsel.

If an individual claiming to be a state or federal official arrives in person to request access to records or to interview a university administrator, faculty or staff, immediately contact the Office of the General Counsel to authenticate the identification of the official and/or any requested documents.

What is attorney-client privilege?

The confidential communication between attorney and client is protected by an attorney-client privilege. The university's administrators, faculty and staff are protected by the attorney-client privilege when communicating with the Office of the General Counsel either by electronic, oral or written means in seeking legal advice relating to university issues. This privilege is in effect when communication is to, from or with the Office of the General Counsel requesting or receiving legal counsel. It is during this time that the administrator, faculty or staff member becomes the "client."

However, a serious situation could occur. If a third party gains knowledge of the communication between the general counsel and the client, the attorney-client privilege is compromised. When other parties must be involved, in order to protect the attorney-client privilege, the client is required to write to the general counsel requesting legal advice; however, a copy must also go to the involved parties. The first document is considered attorney-client communication, as is the second document because the client has shared a privileged communication with the university employee that has a need to know about the legal issue. If, however, a separate document is provided to other parties concerning the legal issue, this document is not privileged and would be subject to disclosure in a lawsuit.

In order to maintain an attorney-client privilege all communications must be kept confidential. Any information disclosed to persons employed by the university who are not directly involved in the matter, or persons outside of the university, may cause the privilege to be compromised. Communications with the general counsel should never be discussed with anyone, including family, friends or colleagues at the university. If the client shares the general counsel's advice to anyone who has no role in the case, the client's earlier discussion with the general counsel is no longer privileged. As a result, if the client is called to testify in the case, he or she can be compelled to describe the conversation with the general counsel.

All written communications, including email, from the university's administrators, faculty and staff to the general counsel concerning legal matters should be labeled "privileged and confidential" by the sender. Although the label is not required to establish the communication as an attorney-client privilege, it can help to protect the communication from disclosure in litigation.

Be assured that the Office of the General Counsel will consider all communication as privileged when requesting or receiving legal advice concerning university business. If you have any questions concerning the attorney-client privilege, please contact Louis Isakoff, vice president and general counsel, at 757.226.2797 or

The Office of the General Counsel cannot provide legal advice to students or employees about personal legal issues or to persons with claims unfavorable to the university.

Copyright: What is fair use?

Fair use is a limitation of copyright that allows reproduction of copyrighted works for the purpose of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship or research. For detailed policies regarding fair use see Section 107 of the Copyright Law.

Copyright: What about posting materials in Blackboard?

While Blackboard can limit access to course content, it does not absolve instructors or students from first obtaining permission to post copyrighted materials. In general, if you need to obtain permission to use the content in paper format, you probably need permission to use it in electronic format as well.

Copyright: May I show movies or videos in class?

Section 110 (1) of the Copyright Law enables teachers to perform or display a video or movie without a public performance license so long as the use is 1) in a classroom or similar instruction space, 2) the use is part of a regularly scheduled course, and 3) the use must be exclusively by the instructor and the students in the classroom, in the course of face-to-face teaching activities.

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