This guide was republished and modified with the kind permission of the Kansas State University Center for the Advancement of Digital Scholarship. To check out some of their other great content on copyright and academic scholarship, please visit https://www.k-state.edu/copyright/
Copyright is a form of legal protection that allows authors and other creators to control their original, creative work. The work must be "fixed in a tangible medium of expression" - written on a piece of paper, saved on a computer hard drive, or recorded on an audio or video tape. In general, copyright holders have the exclusive right to do, and to authorize others to do, the following:
Copyright protects literary, musical, dramatic, choreographic, pictorial, graphic, sculptural, audiovisual, and architectural works.
Copyright occurs automatically at the creation of a new work. You do not have to provide a copyright notice on your work to receive copyright protection. However, if you are making your work publicly available, it's a very good idea to include a copyright information, along with your contact information, so that people who want to re-use your work will be able to get in touch with you. A good copyright notice might look something like: "© 2008 J. Doe. For permissions and questions contact email@example.com."
For works created since March 1, 1989, copyright lasts from the moment a work is created until 70 years after the death of the author, except for works produced by a company/employer in which case the copyright lasts 120 years from the date of creation. Works created before this date can have various copyright protection. The Digital Copyright Slider can be used to help define how long the protection of an item may last.
If you are using library-licensed materials (i.e. journals, books, and other materials for which the library has a subscription) for an online course, such as on Canvas, you should consider providing permalinks or citations of the specific resource rather than including them in Canvas for students to download directly; this is beneficial for two to three reasons:
Need help with permalinks? Please contact the library for assistance.
Word of Caution: The Harvard Business Review has a license agreement with EBSCO that explicitly restricts the inclusion of links to its articles in courses, such as through Canvas or in a syllabus. In other words, it is not permissible to link to HBR articles in your courses. The large majority of journals and publishers do not have such restrictions, but if there are restrictions such as this, they are usually communicated clearly on the journal or database. If you have specific questions, please contact the library.
If you have specific questions about using copyrighted materials for your course, please do not hesitate to reach out to the library.
Guide to Analyzing Any U.S. Copyright Problem
This is the detailed framework that outlines similar (above) easy-to-follow guidelines for solving any copyright problem with several tools and resources included. It was originally created by Kevin Smith and Lisa Macklin, who are both attorneys and copyright librarians, as a way to assist anyone in navigating where to begin regarding a "can I use it?" U.S. copyright problem. The guidelines have been adapted to better accommodate the K-State community.
Guide to Analyzing Any U.S. Copyright Problem - Infographic
This simplified infographic is a derivative of the (above) framework/guidelines that can help you analyze any copyright problem and guide you through an appropriate solution for your individual needs.
Copyright Genie The Copyright Genie will walk you through the steps to determine if a work is in copyright and, if it is, when it will enter the public domain.
Digital Copyright Slider From the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy, a visual and interactive way to figure out if something is under copyright.
Fair Use Evaluator This tool helps you make a fair use evaluation and provides a PDF document of your evaluation for your records.
Interactive Guide to Using Copyrighted Media in Your Courses This interactive guide from Baruch College at the City University of New York helps faculty determine the appropriate guidelines to follow for using different types of media in face-to-face classes and online classes.
Copyright Renewals Database This is a database of copyright renewal records for US Class A (book) renewals received by the US Copyright Office between 1950 and 1992 for books published in the US between 1923 and 1963.
Copyright Term Calculator Use information on hand to determine whether or not a specific work is in the public domain. This calculator takes into account the potential restoration of copyright for items published outside of the U.S. due to Uruguay Round Agreements Act.
Catalog of Copyright Entries These PDF files can be used to find copyright renewal records for items that aren’t US Class A (books) renewals. Note: Copyright renewal had to occur sometime during the 28th year, however sometimes the Library of Congress could be slow in publishing said renewals. To maximize the search, look for the renewal records from the 27th to the 29th year.
Exceptions for Instructors eTool Guide This tool helps you determine if your intended use meets the requirements set out in the law and provides a PDF document for your records.
TEACH Act at the Copyright Crash Course Introduction to and explanation of the TEACH Act and how it may facilitate use of copyrighted works in the classroom. This site also includes a checklist to determine if a work qualifies.
Creative Commons License Tool Follow the steps to choose the appropriate Creative Commons license for your creative or scholarly work.
Section 108 Spinner Use this spinner/tool to find out if the reproduction of a work is permissible under Section 108: Limitations on exclusive rights: Reproduction by libraries and archives.
Copyright.gov Public Catalog (1978-Present) This database shows records of all copyright registrations for all works dating from January 1, 1978, to the present, as well as renewals and recorded documents.
Copyright.gov Copyright Records (Pre-1978) This ongoing project presents records of copyright ownership from the United States Copyright Office for the period from July 1891 through December 1977.