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Resources about copyright and fair use.





Creative Commons


Creative Commons

An organization working within copyright that (quoting from Northwestern University Guide): "allows you to share your creations with others and use music, movies, images, and text online that's been marked with a Creative Commons License". The site is searchable. 



Face-to-Face Exception

Along with other exemptions noted in this section (17) of the copyright law, this exception permits a non-profit educational institution to use legally reproduced (meaning authorized copies) works such as small portions of books, short video clips, playing of a popular song, slides/images of famous paintings, etc., in a classroom or similar place used solely for instruction during the activities of face-to-face teaching.  There are other requirements: no admission charge, be a regular part of the instruction activities and is directly related to the teaching content. Further, one cannot copy cartoons or show videos, PowerPoints etc., merely for the sake of entertainment.


Heart of the work

Here's an example-from Stanford University:"For example, it would probably not be a fair use to copy the opening guitar riff and the words "I can't get no satisfaction" from the song "Satisfaction" (by the Rolling Stones)."

The most memorable part or the most central/significant aspect(s).  The heart of the work can also include the amount of portion used.  Merely because a 'small' or tiny portion is used, if it is the heart it is likely to fair use.



Implied License

The sense that one may freely use materials that would normally require permission from the owner.  Many assume that any/everything posted on the web may be used without permission---not true!



From the Harry Ransom Center: "An unpublished form of a creative work not intended for general distribution, including notes, holograph, typescript, galleys, page proofs as well as correspondence and diaries".

Public Domain




Dedicated works 

Government (US) works

Expired works


Difficult to explain exactly but basically the collection of all expressive works for which no one owns the copyright.  A work may be in the public domain if: a copyright has expired, a copyright owner dedicates a work to the public domain, or if copyright law does not protect the work. Some find the mnemonic FRIDGE helpful in thinking about works that may be in the public domain.

Interested? Cornell University: Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States

Work for Hire

See: 17 USC Sections 201(a) and (b)

         Definition in section 101



From Copyright Crash Course:

201(a) vests ownership of copyright in a work with the author of the work. Section 201(b) provides that the employer or other person for whom a work-for-hire is prepared will be considered the author for copyright purposes.

Works-for-hire are works created by employees within the scope of their employment, or by others pursuant to written contract, if the work created falls into one of the nine categories set out in the definition.




Subject Guide

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Sarah Dick, MLIS, RN
Hovey Hall, 208 D
Graduate School
(309) 438-2860

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