Quick Facts About Copyright

Traversing copyright waters is tricky.  If you’re on the run, these quick facts can help.

Fair Use

How you use a work often determines whether or not you are committing copyright infringement.   Click here to consult a guide containing helpful information about fair use.

Public Domain

Double check the copyright term of the work you are using.  For more information click here to learn about what works are in the public domain.

I Want To…

  • create a coursepack: Depending on the amount of a work you are including in a coursepack, you could be violating copyright.  For example, including an entire book is violating copyright, but in some instances a single chapter may fall under fair use.
  • use an image in my presentation: If the image is protected, you may be infringing if used without permission. If the image doesn’t have a rights section that explicitly says that reuse is okay, you will likely need permission, unless your use would be considered fair use or fit another exception to copyright. Try searching for images through the Creative Commons.   Rights holders may license their images allowing reuse of their images for any purpose or certain specified purposes using a creative commons license (see below).

Creative Commons

What do all those symbols mean, and what’s Creative Commons?

attribution Attribution: The creator wants credit for the work.  Make it clear who the original creator was and where the work came from.

attribution-sharealike ShareAlike: Remixing and tweaking are allowed, so long as original is credited and same licensing applies to new version.

attribution-noderivatives No derivatives: Allows for redistribution, commercial or non-commercial, so long as the original work is unchanged.

attribution-noncomercial Non-Commercial: Remixing, redistribution, etc, all allowed, but not for commercial use.

Any and all combinations are possible, so something that looks like  means the creator wants attribution, only non-commercial use is allowed, and there are no changes to original work.

Copyright Myths

“This item doesn’t explicitly say “copyrighted” or have the © symbol. That means it’s not copyrighted and free to use how I want and as much as I want.”

–Nope. An item is copyrighted once it is “fixed” in a tangible medium of expression, like paper.

There are plenty of myths about copyright, check out the links below for more.

Copyright Myths from Plagiarism Today.

Author Rights

If you are publishing your work, adding a copyright addendum like this one from SPARC can help you negotiate your rights with your publisher.

Additionally, this online guide has plenty of  material to help you understand how copyright affects you in relation to any work.