Selecting and using resources for teaching, research, and publication have the added challenge of copyright. That is the exclusive ownership held by the creators of a wide variety of creative works. These articles, books, art, videos, etc...have complex aspects for use ranging from tight restrictions that require permissions from the Copyright Clearance Center for any type of use to works in the Public Domain which can be used by anyone in any way.
The information and links below will allow you to learn more about copyright, fair use, Creative Commons licenses, and Public Domain. All play important roles in the creation of today's curriculum and academic research.
Unanswered questions? Contact your Scholarly Communications Librarian, Cindy Gruwell at firstname.lastname@example.org
You may be surprised, but your probably the author of many copyrighted documents and/or manuscripts. As soon as you create a work in a permanent or fixed format you are the holder of the copyright. Unless you give permission to others you have the sole rights to your work. This may have a myriad of implications and something to keep in mind when you share your work.
Copyright covers both published and unpublished works. The work does not have to be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office nor have the © symbol.
Type of works included are:
The length of time a work is covered by copyright protection is extensive. Basic rules in the United States include:
This chart, created by Peter Hirtle, provides a detailed outline of the current U.S. copyright law related to duration of copyright: http://copyright.cornell.edu/resources/publicdomain.cfm
Keep in mind that Copyright protection does not extend to:
Items in the public domain include:
For more information check out Copyright Basics @Copyright.gov
The Copyright Genie - Go through a checklist to check for copyright status
"Fair use is a legal doctrine that promotes freedom of expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances." -- Copyright.gov
Copyright law is quite complex and is constantly evolving largely due to changes in technology. Decisions made in copyright infringement cases will help clarify copyright law, but that will take time. In the meantime, this ambiguity works in favor of the student, teacher, educational institution, and library.
There are four factors to consider when deciding to fairly use copyrighted materials (see the checklist linked below), in fact, these are the properties courts assess when Fair Use issues end up in court. Keep them in mind.
|Favors Fair Use||Opposes Fair Use|
Learn more about Fair Use and check the "fairness" of your use of copyrighted resources using the Fair Use Evaluator or you may want to check out a Fair Use checklist like this one at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Library.
You may choose to openly share your work with others by retaining your copyright and assigning your work a Creative Commons License. This license does not replace copyright, rather it enhances how you as an author allow people to use your work.
"Creative Commons provides free, easy-to-use legal tools that give everyone from individual “user-generated content” creators to major companies and institutions a simple, standardized way to pre-clear usage rights to creative work they own the copyright to. CC licenses let people easily change their copyright terms from the default of “all rights reserved” to “some rights reserved.” -- What is Creative Commons
For more information check out the Creative Commons Handout Below
"The term “public domain” refers to creative materials that are not protected by intellectual property laws such as copyright, trademark, or patent laws. The public owns these works, not an individual author or artist. Anyone can use a public domain work without obtaining permission, but no one can ever own it." -- Welcome to the Public Domain - Rich Stim
The timing for when a particular type of format of work enters the public domain varies widely depending on a variety of factors including but not limited to:
Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States - Cornell University Library
Using and citing your previous work is not always a bad thing, however you might want to checkout these guidelines before you take that leap.