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Linden Hall Library: Copyright

Can I Use...

Are you making a presentation, creating a website or documentary, and want to use someone else's work?
These are some questions you need to ask yourself.

Using someone's Text:

  • Is the text in the public domain?
  • Is the text licensed under a Creative Commons or similar license?
  • Does your use fall under fair use?
  • Do you have permission from the rights holder?

Using someone's Photos and Images:

  • Who owns the copyright?  
  • Is the image in the public domain?
  • Is the image licensed under a Creative Commons or similar license?
  • Does your use fall under fair use?
  • Do you have permission from the rights holder?

Using someone's Music Composition:

  • Who owns the copyright? Sometimes it's the publisher and sometimes it's the composer.
  • Is the composition in the public domain?
  • Is the composition licensed under a Creative Commons or similar license?
  • Does your use fall under fair use?
  • Do you have permission from the rights holder?

What about plagiarism?

Importantly, there is a distinction between plagiarism and copyright.

Plagiarism is the failure to give proper attribution to an original creator's work when another person uses the original creator's thoughts, words, or ideas in a secondary work.

Copyright infringement is using some or all of a copyrighted work without the original creator's permission, or without an exception that allows one to use such a work.

What is copyright?

Copyright is a form of intellectual property that protects the original expression of ideas. More than one person may have the same idea but it is how they express the idea that is protected by copyright. A copyright work is protected as soon as it is in material form (e.g. written down).

What is fair use?

The Copyright Act provides that the "fair use of a copyrighted work for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright." It also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:

  • The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
  • The nature of the copyrighted work
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  • The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work

What is public domain?

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. Works fall into the public domain for three main reasons:

1. the term of copyright for the work has expired
2. the author failed to satisfy statutory formalities to perfect the copyright 
3. the work is a work of the U.S. Government.
Works in the public domain may be used freely without the permission of the former copyright owner.  You will still need to cite your source if you use a public domain source in research!

 

Dos & Don'ts

πŸ‘Œ Cite third party web sites that contain copyrighted works
🚫 Link to content you know, or should have reason to know, is unlicensed or pirated 

πŸ‘Œ Quote/excerpt small portions of a work (-5% of a work)
🚫 Copy entire documents, images, or video (+10%)

πŸ‘Œ Use license or copyright free images
🚫 Modify a copyrighted image & use the new version (it will be an unauthorized "derivative work")