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Copyright, Fair Use & Creative Commons

Recommended Approach

  • Assume that the material you are interested in using is probably copyrighted, even if you don't see a symbol
    • After 1978, you do not need to put a copyright symbol ( © ) on publications. Every publication is copyrighted at the point of being put into a tangible form
  • Consider whether the material you are interested in could be in the public domain
    • Because of the various changes in copyright law, determining whether an item is in the public domain takes some work -- but it can be worth it
  • Check to see if (or actively search for) material that has a Creative Commons license that allows you to use it
    • Be certain to look for the small print! If the copyright holder requests you to attribute the material to him/her -- do so
  • If the material is not in the public domain, perform a Fair Use Analysis.
    • Fair Use is the most useful method of determining your ability to use material
  • If your analysis results are not clear, consider the options presented by educational exemptions
    • This works only for classroom presentations. However, you can display a copyrighted work (or even perform plays or music) without worry about copyright
  • If in doubt, secure permission
    • The Oregon Tech Libraries spend a lot of money purchasing rights for you to make copies of the articles -- take advantage of it
    • Write to the copyright holder. Often times they will give permission to students to use their material without cost
    • Purchase permission. The Oregon Tech Libraries can help you find out how much money it would take to do so