This page contains common questions and answers about copyright and some resources for you to investigate if you have further questions. Please also feel free to access the information on the Beloit College Copyright and File sharing page. Intellectual Property is a documentary created by Carl Colglazier (FilmmakersGuide). He presents the information critically and creatively. Excellent use of media. Very much worth a look.


Copyright & Fair Use


What is “intellectual property”?
According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), intellectual property, “refers to creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce.” http://www.wipo.int/about-ip/en


Why is copyright compliance important?

Copyright restrictions exist to protect the rights of creators of intellectual property.  In the United States, copyright restrictions are a matter of federal law.  Failure to comply with these laws can result in the pursuit of legal action on the part of the author or creator (http://www.copyright.com/Services/copyrightoncampus/basics/index.html).

In cases of questionable copyright compliance, ISR staff may not be able to provide assistance.


What is Fair Use?

“Fair Use” restrictions provide limitations to the current United States copyright, patent, trademark and trade secret laws (http://www.copyright.gov/title17/).  Use of intellectual property that is determined to be fair is protected from legal liability under these laws.  Determining whether fair use applies to go a given circumstance can be a complex process.  There are no concrete definitions of fair use.  Instead, determining whether fair use applies relies on four main factors (http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#107):

  1. Purpose and character of the use (including educational vs. non-educational use and for-profit vs. not-for-profit use)

  2. Nature of the work being used

  3. Amount of the work that is used

  4. Effect on the market value of the work that is used


Categorizing the use of a source as a fair use depends on the agreement of all four factors, not just one or a combination of them.  There are a number of checklists available to help you determine whether your intended use of copyrighted material is considered fair.  One can be found online at http://www.copyright.com/Services/copyrightoncampus/basics/fairuse_list.html.  If, after consulting such a list, you are still unsure whether your use is protected, please consult with library staff for further assistance.  


What constitutes permission?

Obtaining permission for use of a copyrighted work may be a complex and time-consuming process.  If it is determined that a given use of a copyrighted work does not fall within Fair Use guidelines, one must locate the holder of the copyright.  If the copyright holder is deceased, permission must be obtained from the executor of the holder’s estate.  Once located, one should provide a detailed description of the nature and purpose of the intended use.  The holder must provide written permission for use or reproduction.  For more information about seeking permission, visit http://www.copyright.com/Services/copyrightoncampus/compliance/index.html.


In addition, one may request a search of registered copyrighted works from the U.S. Copyright Office (http://www.copyright.gov/) or obtain permission via the Copyright Clearance Center (http://www.copyright.com/viewPage.do?pageCode=gp1).


How do I get permission to use something that is copyrighted?

You may contact the author or publisher for written permission, or consult the Copyright Clearance Center at http://www.copyright.com/ . Library staff can assist with finding contact information.


How can I tell if something is public domain?

Determining whether something is in the public domain requires consideration of a number of factors, including:  date of publication; place of publication; presence of copyright notice; copyright renewal (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_domain).  Cornell University offers a rubric for determining whether an item is in the public domain, which can be found at http://copyright.cornell.edu/resources/publicdomain.cfm.  If you are unable to determine whether an item is under copyright, contact library staff for assistance.


How do I attribute proper credit for this resource?

In general, you should credit the creator of a resource in the manner that he or she specifies.  When providing credit to a published article or book, it is sufficient to follow the rules specified by established citation style guides (such as those used by the American Psychological Association, Modern Language Association, etc.).


In some cases, the creator of a resource may include explicit directions for properly citing his or her intellectual property.  If this is not the case, it is appropriate to ask the creator how he or she would like to be cited when requesting permission to use the material.

What is plagiarism?

As defined by the Beloit College Student Handbook:


Plagiarism is the representation of someone else‘s words, ideas, or data as one‘s own work. When a student submits work for credit that includes the words, ideas, or data of others, the source of that information must be acknowledged through complete, accurate, and specific footnote references, and, if verbatim statements are included, through quotation marks as well. By placing his or her name on work submitted for credit, the student certifies the originality of all work not otherwise identified by appropriate acknowledgments.  www.beloit.edu/studentaffairs/assets/Student_Handbook.10_11.pdf



Finding Re-Usable Material


What is Creative Commons?

Creative Commons (http://creativecommons.org) is a nonprofit corporation that allows intellectual property creators to select their own license terms.  This process allows creators to determine which uses others will be able to make of their intellectual property.  Some licenses provide for very little allowable uses, while others provide a great deal.  Property creators can generate HTML license statements for use on websites and online repositories.  Creative Commons licenses can be applied to music, images, written materials, and other types of intellectual property.


How do I find images I can reuse?

One way to find resources that may be reused is to search for items that have associated Creative Commons licenses.  To locate these materials, visit http://creativecommons.org/.  Webistes such as http://www.istockphoto.com/ and Stock.xchng (http://www.sxc.hu/) are possible sources for locating royalty-free images.  


It is also possible to search for re-usable images from a Google or Flickr image search.  To do such an image search from Google, click the ‘Advanced Image search’ link to the right of the search bar.  There you will be able to select multiple criteria to define your search.  The next to last field is titled “Usage rights”.  Select, “labeled for re-use’ from the drop-down on the right.  Any images that are returned in your search will be available for you to re-use.  Similarly, to search for re-usable images in Flickr, you can click the “Advanced Search” link next to the search bar. At the bottom of that page is a Creative Commons section. Click the check box next to the “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content” option.  Any images returned in your search will be licensed for re-use.


In addition, certain images in ARTstor are identified as “Images for Academic Publishing (IAP).”  These images are specifically designated as items that can be used for publication.  To learn more, visit http://help.artstor.org/wiki/index.php/Viewing_Images#IAP_images.


How can I find audio material that I can re-use?

Some resources for finding creative commons licensed music and sounds are:

The first two sites will allow you to find music  that you can include in a project.  They allow you to search by keyword, listen to and download the music that you choose.  The third site provides sound samples, not songs, for you to add to a project.  This is helpful if you are looking for a particular background noise.



Using Resources

Can I scan this book?

Scanning or copying a book or journal article is considered reproduction and is consequently subject to copyright restrictions.  Follow Fair Use guidelines to determine if the intended use is allowable.  Fair Use will likely be determined by the amount copied or scanned and whether the reproduction is intended for private study or wider distribution.


Can I put an image on my website/in my presentation?

Like other forms of intellectual content, images are subject to rights protection.  In general, it is okay to use an image in a presentation that is to be delivered in class.  However, you must be sure to provide appropriate credit for the image.  Be sure to acknowledge the image source, creator, and other relevant information.  


Additional steps may be necessary to secure rights to display an image in a paper or presentation that is to be made more widely available (e.g.: in a published journal or on a website).  To avoid any legal issues, it is good practice to contact the image’s original creator and explain your intended use.  Ask the creator to supply written permission to use his or her image.  Also, inquire about the method in which he or she would like to be credited in your work.  Follow the procedure outlined in What constitutes permission.


Some images are free of copyright.  To locate such images, try using the “Find” feature at http://creativecommons.org.  Other sources include http://www.istockphoto.com/.  It is also possible to search for re-usable images from a Google or Flickr image search.  To do such an image search from Google, click the ‘Advanced Image search’ link to the right of the search bar.  There you will be able to select multiple criteria to define your search.  The next to last field is titled “Usage rights”.  Select, “labeled for re-use” from the drop-down on the right.  Any images that are returned in your search will be available for you to re-use.  Similarly, to search for re-usable images in Flickr, you can click the “Advanced Search” link next to the search bar. At the bottom of that page is a Creative Commons section. Click the check box next to the “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content” option.  Any images returned in your search will be licensed for re-use.


Can I use this song in my presentation?

If the song has been licensed for re-use (creative commons) then you are free to use the song in the manner specified within the license.  Some licenses permit using a song for commercial purposes, some do not.  Other licenses permit the re-mixing or adaptation of the song.  You will need to examine the license [link] to determine what uses have been granted by the owner of the song.


Can I use a song from my iTunes library?

Buying a song from the iTunes store does not give you the rights to use the song as you choose.  When you purchase a song from the iTunes store or download an album from a CD you purchased, you have only paid to be able to play/listen to a song on any device you choose.  You have not paid for the rights to re-use, remix or otherwise edit that song.


What can I post on Moodle?

Any material that could be classified as a fair use can be posted on Moodle.  This includes excerpts from books, articles, audio recordings and video recordings.  Any material that is classified as public domain can be posted on Moodle.  An effort should be made to link to resources when possible rather than posting an actual file.  When using articles found in library subscription databases such as JSTOR and Academic Search Premier, post a link to the article in the database rather than the PDF or scanned copy.  Posting a link to the article allows library staff to accurately track usage of particular publications and databases.  Accurate usage statistics are important to resource renewal decisions.


Can I share articles I find in Library databases?

You may share articles from library databases with others associated with the college.  In most cases, you may also share these articles with professional colleagues at other institutions for use in scholarly pursuits.  This is known as “scholarly sharing” (http://www.copy-right.org/definition/scholarly-sharing-d.html).  The library strives to include language explicitly allowing scholarly sharing when negotiating license agreements with database vendors.  To determine whether scholarly sharing is allowed, look for Terms and Conditions statements associated with the database you are using.  If you are unable to determine whether scholarly sharing is permitted, please contact library staff.


In what ways can I use articles that I find in library databases?

Most library databases are licensed resources.  Use of the items found in these databases is governed by the terms found in these licenses.  Although the license for each database is different, the following uses are generally acceptable (provided the use falls under Fair Use guidelines):

  • Adding an article to library reserves

  • Posting a link to an article in Moodle

  • Printing a single copy of an article for personal research

  • Saving a single copy of an article for personal research


The following uses are generally prohibited without express written permission from the publisher:

  • Printing an entire issue of a given journal

  • Posting a copy of an article to a website that is widely available to the public

  • Including an article in a course packet to be sold

  • Printing several copies of an article for distribution outside of a classroom environment


To determine if an intended use of database material is acceptable, it is important to consult database Terms of Use statements.  For assistance in locating and interpreting these statements, contact library staff.


Database and electronic journal licenses also require library staff to report instances of non-compliance by authorized users.

Can I post this on my website?

Whether or not it would be allowable for you to post a source (image, audio, excerpt) depends on many factors.  The first criteria would be to determine if your website, or the location that you will place the source, is protected by a password or if it is open to the public.  Placing a source in a website or other location that requires authentication (username and password) leans toward being a fair use.  The opposite would also be the case.  If a source has been licensed for re-use, it is agreeable to use the source as long as the criteria for attribution contained in the license have been met.  Examine the license to determine how the creator would like to be attributed.  In any instance consider each of the “four factors” to determine if a use is fair.


Can I copy a DVD, an entire book, CD or other resource?

In general, works should not be copied in their entirety.  Fair use guidelines for copyrighted works may apply when:

  • using of a small part of a work

  • keeping a copy for a short time

  • attempts to purchase the item are unsuccessful

  • access to a work is restricted to a specific class (e.g. password protected)

In cases of questionable copyright compliance, ISR staff may not be able to provide assistance.


Can I copy works to put on reserve at the library?

Fair use guidelines apply to copying works for library reserve.  Copying a small portion and making a copy available for a short time period are favored in determining fair use.  Instructors placing materials on reserve are responsible for obtaining authorization from the copyright holder and for following all applicable copyright regulations for those materials.  Please see the college’s recommendations for putting sources on reserve, here.



Links to Resources

  1. http://www.librarycopyright.net/108spinner/ -- An interactive tool to help users understand Section 108 of the U.S. Copyright Code, which allows reproduction by libraries and archives under certain conditions.

  2. http://www.librarycopyright.net/etool/ -- An interactive tool to help instructors understand use of copyrighted materials in the classroom.

  3. http://www.librarycopyright.net/fairuse/ -- An interactive tool to help users decide whether use of a copyrighted item falls under the guidelines of Fair Use.

  4. http://www.vraweb.org/resources/ipr/dirc/ -- A tool to help users decide whether a digital image is protected by copyright and whether the image can be used for a number of purposes.

  5. http://librarycopyright.net/digitalslider/ -- A tool that can help users determine if an item is protected by copyright or if it is in the public domain.

  6. http://www.copyright.gov/title17/ -- A complete online version of U.S. Copyright Law.

  7. http://www.copyright.gov/ -- Official website of the U.S. Copyright Office.

  8. http://www.copyright.com/ -- Official website of the Copyright Clearance Center.

  9. http://www.copyright.com/Services/copyrightoncampus/ -- The Campus Guide to Copyright Compliance for Academic Institutions (from the Copyright Clearance Center).

  10. www.knowyourcopyrights.org -- This website has been created to provide resources on copyright and fair use and how to communicate that information to others.  They published a brochure that is free to download from here.