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Copyright and Intellectual Property   Tags: copyright, creative commons, fair use, intellectual property, scholarly communications  

This guide will direct you to resources explaining principles of U.S. copyright law and how it functions in practice in academic institutions.
Last Updated: Jul 17, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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The following guide will direct you to resources explaining principles of U.S. copyright law and how it functions in practice in academic institutions. If you have a specific question regarding the use of copyrighted materials, please email and one of our librarians will assist you.

All information regarding copyright and intellectual property on this page is not intended to provide official legal advice. Compliance with copyright is the responsibility of the instructor, not the library or university.

NYU Copyright Polices

  • NYU Libraries Handbook for the Use of Copyrighted Materials
    The Handbook is the combined effort of representatives of the NYU Libraries, Information Technology Services, and the Office of the Provost, together with the NYU Office of Legal Counsel. September 1, 2003.
  • NYU Faculty Handbook
    Published 2008. Policy on Intellectual Property (Patents, Copyright) begin on page 100.
  • Sample Copyright Permission Letter
    The language and format of this letter has been reviewed by NYU Langone Medical Center's Office of Legal Counsel. When requesting permission be sure to allow sufficient lead time for the publisher or claimant to check the status and ownership of rights and evaluate the request.

Key Terms and Concepts

Creative Commons

Creative Commons provides creators with licensing to encourage the sharing and distribution of their work. Although their work remains copyrighted a Creative Commons license allows others to copy, share and reuse the work with limited or no restrictions.

Learn more.

Fair Use

Fair use provides parameters for the legal use of copyrighted material without the permission of the copyright holder. Only a court can determine if a use is "fair" (and only if a case is litigated). While fair use offers some protection from copyright infringement, it does not prevent the copyright holder from taking legal action.

Learn more.

Public Domain

Materials in the public domain may be copied, reused, shared or distributed without permission from the creator or paying a fee. Government documents or works created by an office or employee of the federal government are automatically entered into the public domain whereas commercially published and privately created works enter after a statutory period.

Learn more.


Online Module

Online learning module: U.S. Copyright, The Very Abridged Version for Online Educators

Created for NYU School of Medicine faculty this module covers key concepts in U.S. copyright law and addresses the challenges associated with using copyrighted materials. It is appropriate for faculty and instructors in medical environments who create course materials, lecture slides, and presentations for use online.

The module will provide users with a basic introduction to copyright and its alternatives such as Public Domain and Creative Commons licensing, an overview of Fair Use guidelines, as well as information on how to correctly attribute a work to its creator and request permission to use it.

This short module is interactive providing quizzes, a video, optional sections, examples, and resources.

There are 3 ways to access this module:

  1. For the NYU community, the module is available through the School of Medicine's VP21 system under "General Activities".  This includes information about resources available at NYU School of Medicine.
  2. For those outside of NYU that would like to access a public version of the module (NYU-specific content removed), a hosted version is available. To view this you can access VP21 using a Google or Facebook account. The module is listed under "General Activities".
  3. For those outside of NYU that have implemented LAMS (Learning Activity Management System), a version of the module can be downloaded from MedEdPORTAL.

Assistant Director, Content Management & Scholarly Communications


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