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Copyright Resources

How to Analyze a Copyright Problem

When determining whether or not you can reuse material, consider these questions: 

  1. Is the work protected by copyright? 
  2. Are you the copyright owner? 
  3. Is there a license (or legal exemption) that covers my use? 
  4. Is there a case for Fair Use? 
  5. Do I need permission from the copyright owner?

Based on: “A Framework for Analyzing Any Copyright Problem,” by Kevin Smith, Lisa Macklin, and Anne Gilliland © 2014. Reused with permission. 

Can You Use It?


Created by the University of Minnesota Libraries © 2011 Regents of the University of Minnesota. Accessed from on Sept. 16, 2011. Available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported license

Finding Material

Finding material: 

1.   Filter web search results by reuse rights (often in advanced search settings)  

2.   Use resources in the public domain.

3.   Use Creative Commons licensed resources.

4.   Create your own material or use UMMS material.

Determining Copyright Status

1.  Assume that a work is copyrighted…until you can determine otherwise.

2.  A © statement or symbol is not required to demonstrate copyright; conversely, its absence does not indicate that a work is free to reuse.

3. Look for watermarks, statements of ownership or atttribution, or other indicators of a material's copyright status (for example: Terms and Conditions statements, web page footers). Also look for Creative Commons licenses or other statements allowing reuse of material. 

4. A work that is publicly accessible (freely available online) is not necessarily in the public domain or free for reuse.  

5. Similarly, a work that is out-of-print is not necessarily in the public domain or free for reuse.  

Reusing Material

1. Cite any material you reuse, at the point of reuse. Attribution may protect you against plagiarism, but is not the same as getting a copyright owner's permission to use their content.  

2. Link to copyright protected materials, rather than copy. Use permanent URLs when you can.

3. Request permission. If you request permission for a work, retain all your documentation and include "used by permission" in your attribution.

4. Claim Fair Use.