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Copyright: Copyright Basics for Faculty


When using copyrighted materials:

  • Be informed; lack of awareness about copyright does not constitute non-liability
  • Model appropriate use for students
  • Obtain permission; simply acknowledging the source is not a substitute

For your own creative output:


  • Know who holds the copyright
  • Alert potential users about your expectations for use
  • Don’t give away your rights; there is room for negotiation with publishers
  • Use tools such as Creative Commons licenses to define how your work may be used by others
  • Little is black and white
  • Student expectations/demands
  • Time and cost constraints
  • Digital environment makes it easier to infringe


Limit course material to a:

  • Single chapter from a book
  • Single article from a journal issue
  • Chart, graph, or illustration from a single source


Be sure to:

  • Include the copyright notice on the original
  • Cite the source of the material
  • Obtain permission


Remember that:

  • Copies should not replace or substitute for anthologies, compilations or collective works
  • No copies should be provided from consumable works
  • Copies shall not substitute for the purchase of books or periodicals
  • Only the actual cost of photocopying/reproduction can be collected


Four factors of fair use:

  • Purpose and character of the use
  • Nature of the copyrighted work
  • Amount and substantiality of the portion used
  • Effect of the use on the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work

The US Copyright Office provides a concise overview of the doctrine of fair use.