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Copyright: Copyright

Copyright Basics

Helpful books from Barbour Library

What is "Public Domain" and how does it affect Copyright?

A work of authorship is in the “public domain” if it is no longer under copyright protection or if it failed to meet the requirements for copyright protection. Works in the public domain may be used freely without the permission of the former copyright owner.


Some items commonly in the "public domain" are most U.S. government materials; some state materials; materials that are released to the "public domain" by their creator; ideas, facts, or slogans that are not patented. Also, anything published before 1923 in the United States is in the "public domain."


A Framework for Analyzing Copyright Issues

When trying to decide what you can use, here are 5 questions to work through (in order) to guide you.

1. Is the work protected by copyright?

2. Is there a specific exception in copyright law that covers my use (such as the one for classroom performances or displays)?

3. Is there a license that covers my use?

       a. Is there is a "Creative Commons" license attached to the work?

       b. Does my educational institution have a license that covers my use of the work?

4. Is my use covered by fair use?  (See the "FAIR USE" tab.)

5. Do I need permission from the copyright owner for my use?

(Framework obtained from a MOOC on Copyright taken in 2014 -; shortened by Ellen Little)


U.S. Copyright Office

Reproduction of copyrighted works by educators and librarians: