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Keep up to date on copyright through frequently updated tips from copyright expert Lesley Ellen Harris:
What is Copyright?
According to the U.S. Copyright Office, "Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression." Copyright covers both published and unpublished works.
Why Does it Matter?
The creators of copyrighted works and/or the publishers through which these works are made available are in many cases legally entitled to monetary compensation for the reproduction and/or distribution of these materials. Proper citation of copyrighted works is also mandated by the U.S. Copyright Office. Any failure to comply with copyright, whether intentional or not, is a direct violation of the law.
What is Fair Use?
A provision of copyright law that permits copying of sections of copyrighted works without the permission of the owner for limited or “transformative” purposes. The term “transformative purposes” refers to the copying of materials with the intent of commenting upon or critiquing a copyrighted work (i.e., writing a book review, critiquing a research article). Copyright laws list factors that should be evaluated to determine whether copying of works falls under the “fair use” guidelines. You should consider the following when determining if their usage of the copyright material falls under the Fair Use provision:
1. the purpose and character of their use - will new meaning be derived from using the work? Will it assist in the generation of new knowledge?
2. the nature of the copyrighted work - is the work fact or fiction? Is the work published or unpublished? If it is an informative or factual work from a published source, copying the material is more likely to fall under the Fair Use Provision.
3. the amount and substantiality of the portion taken – copy the least amount you can.
4. the effect/financial impact of the use upon the potential market – will copying this work take away potential income from the copyright holder? If so, copying will not likely fall under the Fair Use provision.
Questions about Copyright?
The librarian is here to help you to navigate copyright to to acquire the permissions you need to legally use and/or distribute information. Please contact the librarian with questions. In addition, you can check out the "Proofreading and Editorial Support" portion of the Research Services page to learn more about how the librarian can help you with proper citation.