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Copyright Basics: Getting Started

This guide helps you sort through the tangled web of Copyright!


This Library Guide to copyright information provides practical information and guidance in handling the copyright issues confronting educators every day.

There are few if any reliable rules for educational uses of copyrighted material; the very nature of fair use precludes such precision.  Indeed, it only gets more difficult to make confident decisions about proper use of copyrighted material as media and technology continue to evolve. This Library Guide aims to pull together sources of information about copyright of interest to educators and give you the opportunity to ask questions and comment on the material presented.

This guide does not supply legal advice nor is it intended to replace the advice of legal counsel.

Basic Information About Copyright

There are any number of reasons why you, a faculty member, are taking the time to look at this libguide on Copyright.  It is probably fair to say that few, if any, of you are here to satisfy curiosity about copyright law.  More likely you have questioned proposed use of copyrighted material in your teaching activities or perhaps all the negative press about copyright infringement has raised your concern about what you are and have been doing.

You are here because you want to know what you can and cannot do in your classes even though you suspect it's mostly "can't.

The good news is that there are many ways you can lawfully use copyrighted works in your teaching activities without having to obtain permission from the copyright holder. An educational initiative called Know Your Copyrights, by the association of Research Libraries offers a number of tools - in particular a very useful brochure "Know Your Copy Rights - What You CAN do" that you may wish to download.

Aside from your personal situation, faculty need a better understanding of copyright in order to exercise their rights with confidence and assurance and to maximize potential opportunities for use.  Understanding your fair use rights allows you to employ them in a responsible good faith manner which, in turn, will provide you with a powerful defense against infringement claims.

This libguide will provide copyright information and guidance for all your questions.


The purpose of copyright law is to give protection, for a limited time, to authors of original works. Copyright law is also designed to promote science and the arts by facilitating the dissemination of knowledge.  It is a complex area and defies easy explanation.

The sites listed below contain background information and detailed overviews of copyright law. You will learn a lot about copyright by spending some time at any of these excellent sites:  


This LibGuide is still under development so check back often because more information will be added at a later date. If you have a suggestion for a good internet copyright resource please email me. If you need clarification, want more information, or would like to make an appointment with me please contact me via the information in my profile box.

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