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Copyright: Getting Started

A guide to understanding copyright laws and applications in the classroom and research.

Getting Started

Copyright can inspire a lot of anxiety.  Attempting to comprehend the convoluted array of copyright laws, exemptions, licenses together with concepts like public domain and fair-use may seem completely futile and the apprehension of violating copyright laws could easily dissuade an academic instructor from trying to integrate  valuable resources into their curricula.  Despite its daunting aspect, copyright laws provide you with several avenues to lawfully use other people's work for your own purposes.  This guide will  simplify the process of understanding your rights in light of the rights of copyright holders.  Evaluating your rights can be simplified by asking four questions:

  1. Does it have a copyright?
  2. Is there a specific exception or exemption in copyright law that permits lawful use?
  3. Is there a license that specifies lawful use?
  4. How can I ask permission?

Asking these questions in order represents a process of elimination that will save time.  If a work doesn't have a copyright (Question 1) then you don't have to worry about exemptions, licenses or seeking permission from rights-holders.  If it does have a copyright but there is an exemption that allows lawful use in specific contexts (Question 2), then no need to go further.

Click on the  links above, (or navigate using the tabs) to learn more about your rights and find resources about using works for education lawfully. 

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