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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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.
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.
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.