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Copyright @SVCC

Basic introduction to copyright in the educational environment.

Intellectual Property and Copyright

You have found an article, an image, or a video that perfectly illustrates or encapsulates an insight you want to share with others. That article, image, or video is most likely someone else's intellectual property, so you want to be sure you are not infringing on that person's rights by sharing their work. How do you do this?

Determine Copyright Status

Characteristics of protected works:

  • fixed in a tangible medium
  • not dedicated to the public domain
  • within its copyright term limits

Characteristics of unprotected works:

  • comprised solely of facts, ideas, short phrases
  • copyright term has lapsed and not been renewed
  • dedicated to the public domain
  • produced by an employee of the federal government

Options for Using Copyrighted Works

Do a Fair Use analysis

1. Purpose of use (nonprofit educational use is more likely to be fair use than commercial use)
2. Nature of the copyrighted work (factual work is more likely to be fair use than creative work)
3. Amount & substantiality of the portion used in proportion to the whole
4. Effect of the use on the potential market for the work

Use the work with permission

1. Check RightFind Academic to verify permission with our Copyright Clearance Center Academic Site License
2. Contact the copyright holder directly for permission

Use the work in accordance with its license

  • Licensed library content: the library provides a collection of licensed content from online databases, each with vendor-consumer license agreements. Specific terms of use for downloading, printing, and including in course packs and e-reserves are included in these agreements, which take precedence over copyright law.
  • Creative Commons: you are free to copy and share content that has been licensed through the Creative Commons as long as you use the work in accordance with the CC license applied by the creator.

Link to the source

 It is never a violation of copyright to share a link to non-infringing online content. You just need to be sure any link you provide is functioning, and that it does not lead to a paywall that impedes access.

Whichever method you use to ensure you are compliant, always attribute the source. Include a full citation and copyright register's warning with an additional warning about further electronic distribution. 


This library guide is published for informational purposes and should not be interpreted as a substitute for legal advice.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License