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Copyright: Can I use this?

Using someone else's Text

Is the text in the public domain?
  • Works published before 1923 are public domain.
  • Works published between 1923 and 1977 are public domain if there is no copyright notice OR copyright was not renewed.
Is the text licensed under a Creative Commons license?
  • Check the copyright notice to see if the work was licensed using Creative Commons.
  • Be sure to adhere to all stipulations pertaining to any applicable CC licenses.
Do you have permission from the copyright holder?
  • Permission from the author is not acceptable if the publisher is the copyright holder.
Could you argue Fair Use?
  • What is your purpose for using the work? What is the nature of the work?
  • How much of the work are you using? A paragraph? A chapter?
  • Are you using the work to make a profit or avoid paying the author/publisher? (Example: Are you distributing a textbook to alleviate the financial burden on students?)
Classroom examples from University of Rhode Island libraries.

 Using someone else's Imagery

Is the image in the public domain?
  • Works published before 1923 are public domain.
  • Works published between 1923 and 1977 are public domain if there is no copyright notice OR copyright was not renewed.
Is the image licensed under a Creative Commons license?
  • Check the copyright notice to see if the work was licensed using Creative Commons.
  • Be sure to adhere to all stipulations pertaining to any applicable CC licenses.
Do you have permission from the copyright holder?
  • Purchasing a print does not grant permission to use the image.
  • Clients or publications may own the copyright to photographers' or digital artists' work.
  • Does the image depict other copyrighted work, especially photographs?
Could you argue Fair Use?
  • What is your purpose for using the work? What is the nature of the work?
  • How much of the work are you using?
  • Are you using the work to make a profit or avoid paying the artist/publisher?
Classroom examples from University of Rhode Island libraries.

Using someone else's Music

Is the music in the public domain?
  • Printed music published before 1923 is public domain.
  • Printed music published between 1923-1977 is likely copyrighted for 95 years, depending on whether the copyright was renewed.
  • Sound recordings, regardless of age, are more than likely not public domain.
Is the music licensed under a Creative Commons license?
  • Check the copyright notice to see if the work was licensed using Creative Commons.
  • Be sure to adhere to all stipulations pertaining to any applicable CC licenses.
  • Many works uploaded to digital indie platforms (SoundCloud, Bandcamp, Musescore, etc.) are CC licensed.
Do you have permission from the copyright holder?
  • Dramatic works require grand rights. Purchasing scores is not enough.
  • Derivative works (arrangements, orchestrations and reductions, etc.) of public domain works are still protected by copyright.
  • Permission from the composer is not acceptable if the publisher is the copyright holder.
Could you argue Fair Use?
  • What is your purpose for using the work? What is the nature of the work?
  • How much of the work are you using? A single movement? A page to alleviate a bad page turn?
  • Are you using the work to make a profit or avoid paying the composer/publisher?
  • Are you playing a copyrighted recording as a reference in a non-profit educational setting?
Classroom examples from University of Rhode Island libraries.

Using someone else's Video

Is the video in the public domain?
  • Works published before 1923 are public domain
  • Works published between 1923 and 1977 are public domain if there is no copyright notice OR copyright was not renewed
Is the image licensed under a Creative Commons license?
  • Check the copyright notice to see if the work was licensed using Creative Commons
  • Digital video platforms such as YouTube allow for uploaded videos to be licensed with CC licenses.
  • Be sure to adhere to all stipulations pertaining to any applicable CC licenses.
Do you have permission from the copyright holder?
  • Purchasing a video or film does not grant rights for public "performance".
  • If you are streaming video content, what is the publisher's stance?
Could you argue Fair Use?
  • What is your purpose for using the work? What is the nature of the work?
  • How much of the work are you using?
  • Are you using the work to make a profit or avoid paying the creators/studio?
Classroom examples from University of Rhode Island libraries.

 

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