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General Questions

  1. What is copyrighted?
  2. Who owns the copyright?
  3. What are the general steps for considering whether something is fair use?
  4. Is there a formula for determining whether the amount I am using is covered by fair use? Is 10% or 25% of a work too much or too little?
  5. What about repeated use of the same material?
  6. What does it mean when something is in the public domain? May I freely use it?
  7. Are materials on the Web/Internet publicly available for free use?

Classroom and Program Use

  1. What are the "Guidelines for Classroom Copying"?
  2. What does brevity in the classroom guidelines mean?
  3. What are the guidelines for providing multiple copies for classes?
  4. What is the easiest or best way to use materials for teaching?
  5. How does all of this apply to continuing education, in-service training and patient education?
  6. What can I use for Duke programs?
  7. What about non-Duke CME programs
  8. What is the TEACH Act and how does it apply to my teaching?
  9. Can I show videos in a class?
  10. What is a notice of copyright?

Working with Print and Electronic Journal Articles, Book, Images, and Other Materials

  1. How can I use the PDF and HTML files from electronic journals?
  2. May I scan a paper copy and distribute it?
  3. May I create a packet of photocopied articles for students? Is this a course pack?
  4. May I create a database or articles that I can share with students or colleagues?
  5. May I post my own article to the Web?
  6. May I make as many copies as I want of my own article?
  7. Can I use images in the online teaching modules that I develop?
  8. Where can I find good images for presentations or handouts?
  9. Do I have to seek permission to link to something on the Internet?

Seeking Permission

  1. What does it mean to seek permission for use of copyrighted materials?
  2. What is the Copyright Clearance Center?

Open Access and Other Movements to Make Content More Freely Available

  1. Are the restrictions on sharing files the same if the journal is an open access journals?
  2. What is the Creative Commons?

1. What is copyrighted?

Ideas are not copyrighted, but the expression of those ideas captured in writing, video, audio, or other formats is protected by the copyright law. The old rule of copyrighted materials containing a copyright symbol is gone. Since January 1, 1978, anything set into a physical format (such as slides, handouts, illustrations, video and audio recordings, Web pages, PowerPoint presentations, photos, artwork, books, journals, even personal notes) is protected under the copyright law, whether it contains a copyright symbol or not.

Best Practices

  • For anything published on or after 1978, assume that it is copyrighted!
  • Using something older? - Use this table created by Cornell to help you determine if it is copyright-protected or if it has passed into the public domain.
  • Seek permission from the copyright holder for repeated or extensive use.

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2. Who owns the copyright?

Authors think they own the copyright, but rarely do. Most often the publisher of the journal, book or image owns the copyright and not the author(s) or creator(s). Most faculty sign the copyright to their article or book over to the publisher.

Many publishers do allow authors to use and share their works for educational and non-profit use. Several publishers have recently given retroactive permission to authors to post their work on an institutional repository or their own faculty Websites. Check the agreement you signed with your publisher or the publisher's Website to determine your rights.

For articles written by other faculty or colleagues, asking the author for permission may not be enough. You may need to find out who is the true copyright holder to seek permission. Here are some quick tips for determining the true copyright holder:

  • Check the bottom of the journal article, where a copyright statement is often included.
  • Check the front pages of the journal near the table of contents, which often include statements about copyright.
  • Visit the journal publisher's Website.
  • Look at the back of the title page of the book.
  • Ask the Medical Center Library for assistance.

Just because you cannot find a copyright statement does not mean it is not copyrighted. Works published since 1978 are not required to publish a statement or include the copyright symbol.

Best Practices

  • Use the tips above for finding the true copyright holder.
  • You should review your contract or agreement with the publisher to see what copyrights you hold.
  • Write the copyright holder for permission before using the work.
  • To use your own work, create a link from your Web page to the publisher's version of your article.
  • Use government documents, which are usually in the public domain, i.e., not copyrighted.
  • Decide whether your use fits under fair use or if you should pay a permission fee.
  • When you publish an article, make sure your agreements with the publisher gives you the rights to make copies, use it in classes, and post it on your Website.

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3. What are the general steps for considering whether something is fair use?

If you can answer yes to all these questions you are probably covered by fair use, but if you answer no to one of them, you will need to carefully weigh all the fair use criteria.

  • Are you using the material for non-profit educational purposes?
  • Are you teaching or presenting for a non-profit group?
  • Are you using selected images and portions of the text and not substantial amounts of one article?
  • Have you purchased multiple copies of a readily available commercial work that is designed for your course/program, such as a workbook, exam questions or a study guide -- instead of making copies to avoid the cost?

If most of these answers are no, you may need to consider seeking permission or paying the royalty fee for using the copyrighted materials.

If your use is covered under fair use, you do not need to seek permission or pay a royalty fee. However, repeated use over several years for the same class, program, etc., may not be covered.  Some publishers believe that you should seek permission or pay a royalty fee for repeated use of copyrighted works, though this is not stipulated by the copyright law.

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4. Is there a formula for determining whether the amount I am using is covered by fair use? Is 10% or 25% of a work too much or too little?

There are precise formulas for sound recordings, videos, and creative works, but there are no similar guidelines for factual and scientific information.

Think about how you would want your work used. The article may be 20 pages long, but if you use the most important page or section of the article, it may not be fair use. Would you want someone to use all the images or figures from your article, or just a few?

Best Practices

  • Select only one chapter from a book or place the book on reserve in the Medical Center Library.
  • Use one, at most two, articles from a single journal issue.
  • Use materials from several current journals instead of from one journal title.
  • Select material from a journal supplement and do not use the entire publication.
  • Use 2 or 3 images from a book or multimedia resource.
  • Select images from several sources, not just one.
  • Use a variety of sources of information.
  • Seek permission when in doubt.

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5. What about repeated use of the same material?

When you repeatedly use a copyrighted work over and over again, you may want to consider seeking permission, though this is NOT stipulated by the copyright law.

Restating the information in your own words or creating your own table of data is not a violation of copyright, though you do need to cite the source of the information.

If you use an online article that is part of Duke's electronic subscriptions, you can repeatedly link to it without seeking permission or paying fees.

Best Practices

  • Use several sources for your illustrations.
  • Restate the information in your own words.
  • Give attribution for every item used - author, title, volume, year.
  • Use selected materials occasionally - not every semester or over several years.
  • Seek permission for free use from the copyright holder if you want to use the same material for several years.
  • Pay the permission or royalty fee for repeated use over several years.
  • Check the publishers agreement for your own work to determine how you can use your own material.
  • Link to the articles in the electronic journals at the Medical Center Library and Duke.

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6. What does it mean when something is in the public domain? May I freely use it?

When something is in the "public domain," it is not covered by the copyright law. What is in the public domain? Usually U.S. government documents and works that have expired copyright terms are public domain materials.

U.S. government documents are considered to be free to the public and are not covered by the copyright law. Therefore, government documents are usually within the public domain unless they specifically state that they have restrictions on their use. However, documents created by the governments of other countries may be copyrighted.

When copyrights do expire, the works pass into the public domain and are freely available for use. However, this is complicated by several prior and recent changes in the copyright law that have an impact on how items may be copyrighted, how long those copyright terms last, and how the copyrights may be renewed.

Basically, anything published before 1923 is no longer copyrighted, but after that it is best to check the "Copyright Term and the Public Domain," a chart created at Cornell.

Best Practices

  • Assume that everything published before 1923 is in the public domain.
  • If the work was published in 1923 or later, check the public domain chart to see if it is copyright-protected.
  • Use U.S. government materials that do not have copyright restrictions.

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7. Are materials on the Web/Internet publicly available for free use?

Like other materials, Web pages and their content are protected under the copyright law. Most people who have Web content expect others will use it, but not for commercial purposes.

Best Practices

  • Check the Website for statements about restrictions on use.
  • Give attribution - state the source of information (Website name and URL).
  • Check to see if there is a Creative Commons license.
  • Ask permission to use the materials - most sites will say yes.
  • Link to the site instead of copying the content for handouts or use on your Website.

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1. What are the "Guidelines for Classroom Copying"?

To help guide people in applying the fair use criteria in education, the "Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians" circular was published by the U.S. Copyright Office. These are not a law nor part of the copyright law, but are simply guidelines to help faculty decide how they can apply fair use when teaching.

The guidelines should be viewed as stating the MINIMUM and not the maximum application of fair use in the educational setting.

These guidelines were designed for not-for-profit educational institutions for books and journals (periodicals). They do not apply to for-profit educational institutions or non-educational settings.

The guidelines allow you as a faculty member or instructor to make a single copy of a book chapter, journal, or newspaper article, short essay, story or poem, or a chart, graph, diagram, drawing or picture from a work. The single copy is to be used by you for your research, use in teaching, or preparation for teaching a class.

Multiple copies are also permitted under the guidelines for use in the class or for discussion, IF the use meets certain tests:

  • Brevity - a short work or section of a work (see below).
  • Spontaneity - the copying is requested by the individual teacher and the decision to use the work is so close to the effective use in teaching that there is no time to seek permission.
  • Cumulative effect - (1) the copying is only for one course in the school; (2) not more than one short work or excerpts can be used from the same author and no more than three from the same collective work or periodical volume PER TERM; (3) no more than nine instances of such multiple copying for one class during one term; (4) newspaper articles and news sections of journals are exempted from the last two requirements.
  • A copyright notice appears on the copy so that the students realize the work is protected under copyright law.
  • The copying should not replace a textbook, anthology, or purchase of books, reprints or journals.
  • Consumable works, such as workbooks, exercises, and study guides, may not be reproduced.
  • Copying of the same item by the same teacher should probably not be repeated over several years, though this is NOT stipulated by the copyright law.
  • If you ask your students to pay for copies, the fee cannot be higher than the actual cost of copying the materials.

Best Practices

  • Select only one article from a journal issue or one chapter of a book.
  • Use only two or three articles from the same journal.
  • Choose new articles or book chapters each semester.
  • If you want to use several book chapters, put the book on reserve at the library.
  • Select a textbook for the course and supplement it with selected readings.
  • Make copies of only required readings, and share a list of optional readings.
  • Instead of making copies, create a Web page with links to electronic versions of the readings, if they are available.
  • Consider paying permission fees for creating a "course pack" of your readings that you can distribute electronically and use from term to term.

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2. What does brevity in the classroom guidelines mean?

The guidelines have precise definitions for brevity when considering literary works and illustrations, but they do not define what is fair use for scientific or factual works.

  • Poetry - Complete poem if less than 250 words and no more than two pages OR an excerpt of 250 words from a longer poem.
  • Prose - Complete article or story less than 2,500 words OR an excerpt not more than 1,000 words or 10% or a longer work, whichever is less or a minimum of 500 words.
  • Illustrations - one picture, chart, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture per book or journal issue.
  • Special works - Excerpts of not more than two pages and not more than 10% of works combining prose or poetry with illustrations, such as books for children, which are under 2,500 words.

Best Practices

  • Copy only one chapter from a book or place the entire book on library reserves.
  • Copy only one article from a given journal issue, and two or three articles from the same journal title.
  • Use one illustration from a book or journal issue for making classroom copies.
  • Create a Web page of links to the online versions, if they are available.
  • Consider seeking permission or paying royalty fees for using the entire work or large portions of it.

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3. What are the guidelines for providing multiple copies for classes?

You as a teacher (faculty, instructor, etc.) may make copies of an article for all their students without any problem. You may want to seek permission if you want to use the same material year after year, though this is not stipulated by the copyright law. 

Problems may arise when you use more than one or two articles (or chapters) from the same journal issue (or book), you make copies of the same materials every semester for the same class, or you make copies of a lot of articles for the class instead of using a textbook. (If you have a textbook, this would not be a problem.)

Under the copyright law, libraries are not allowed to make multiple copies. A library may make only one copy for individual use when requested by a patron.

Please see the section on "Guidelines for Classroom Copying" for more details and best practices.

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4. What is the best or easiest way to use materials for teaching?

Assigning online materials available through our library is the easiest and safest path through copyright issues. The licenses for e-journals usually include the right for students to repeatedly access these materials online and make personal copies. AND you can repeatedly use the online articles from semester to semester.

However, e-journal licenses usually prevent you from making copies of the PDFs or other digital files that contain the articles, from sending those files to students or colleagues, and from placing the files on Blackboard, an Internet site, or in a database.

Be aware that if you print a copy of an article from an e-journal and want to give students photocopies of the article, you will need to consider the guidelines governing classroom use.

Best Practices

  • Choose articles available from the Medical Center Library and Duke's electronic journal subscriptions.
  • Set up links from password-protected Web pages or Blackboard sites to the Medical Center Library and Duke's subscriptions.
  • Send the links to the articles from the electronic subscriptions to your students via email.

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5. How does all of this apply to continuing education, in-service training and patient education?

The classroom guidelines apply to non-profit educational institutions and do not apply to other types of institutions even though they may be not-for-profit and may be offering other types of educational events. The guidelines and the copyright law only refer to "classroom use" for discussion and teaching. Neither directly mentions fair use rights for CE courses, training for staff, or patient education held by other types of institutions.

Since Duke is a non-profit educational institution, you may apply the fair use criteria to see if your educational use of materials fits under those tests.

In terms of the purpose of the use, Duke is a non-profit institution and fits under the first criteria or test for fair use. But if Duke holds a large educational event to generate profit, you may have crossed the threshold of what is permitted under fair use.

Given the specific circumstances, for-profit institutions may also be able to use materials under fair use as well. However, for-profit institutions have at least partially failed the test of "purpose of the use" and need to carefully weigh the other factors.

The "type of material" is the next fair use test. Most health care materials fall within the category of scientific or factual information as opposed to literary or creative works, which have greater restrictions on fair use. However, if you decide to use poetry, a section of a novel, or materials written for consumers, as opposed to health professionals, your use will be subject to that stricter interpretation of fair use. A scientific article may be easier to defend as being covered under fair use.

Substantiality and market impact are the two factors that are very likely to impact whether the use of works will fall under fair use.

  • How much of the work are you using? Several articles from the same journal or several chapters from the same book might not be fair use. The same applies to presentations or handouts you have created. Are you using a lot of figures or tables from the same article or book? If yes, this may also exceed fair use.
  • How many copies are you making? Making a reasonable number of copies for one class and only one class could fall under fair use, but making copies for every nurse in Duke hospital, the Clinics, or multiple classes is not likely to be fair use.
  • How often do you plan on using the article? Repeated use is usually not fair use, even if it is for the same presentation that you are giving over and over again.
  • Is it possible to purchase reprints or a textbook? Have you replaced a textbook with photocopies of articles? If so, this is not likely to be fair use.

You have to balance all of these factors to determine whether something is fair use for CE, in-service training or patient education. Unfortunately, there are no clear-cut measures as to when you have crossed the line and are no longer able to use fair-use rights. There is no one right answer, since every situation may be different.

Here are some examples that may provide you more guidance:

  • If you take an entire journal article and give it to a nursing in-service class of 20 students, it probably would not be a problem. However, if you were to teach the class 20 times to about 600 nurses and use the same article, that probably would not constitute fair use.
  • The same would apply for patient education. The use of one article, for one reasonably-sized patient class, would probably be fair use. However, giving every patient the same article over several weeks, months or a year, would violate fair use.
  • It would be the same scenario for continuing education - one class is probably fair use, but repeatedly using the same article would not be fair use. You might also be able to justify a one-time use for a large conference, but not a second or a repeated use.
  • If you create a handout using mostly tables and illustrations from one book or journal, that would not be fair use.
  • When putting together a presentation, it is probably not fair use if you use a number of graphs and figures from only one or two articles.

Best Practices

  • Check to see if the materials are available in the Medical Center Library (check our catalog to determine availability). If they are, send people there to use them. You may also place them on reserve at the Medical Center Library to ensure access to everyone.
  • Determine if the Medical Center Library has online access to the materials and send out the link or post the link to the item on an intranet or private Web page for internal CE and in-service training programs.
  • Always check with the Medical Center Library or other Duke Library before providing links to electronic resources to external participants, since license and contract terms may prohibit sharing the resources outside the institution.
  • Always seek permission or pay royalty fees if you plan to place copyright-protected materials on a public Website.
  • For patient handouts, check to see if the Medical Center Library or Duke subscribes to a service that allows copying for patients.
  • Use an article, chapter, or other work, only once per training session or class, and make sure the size of the class is within reason.
  • Seek permission from the copyright owner (author or publisher) to see if they will allow free use, especially for in-service programs or patient education.
  • Create your own handouts; restate the content and facts in articles and chapters in your own words, and give credit (attribution) to the original authors of the materials.
  • Use only one or two figures, illustrations, or images from the same work in presentations and handouts.

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6. What can I use for Duke programs?

In most cases your work as a teacher or presenter while at Duke is covered under fair use. Non-profit educational activities include teaching residents, students, and fellow clinicians.

The same is true for continuing education activities sponsored by Duke for its staff and physicians. Follow the best practices for using materials under fair use, but if the CME or CE Program begins to look like a commercial event or large revenue generator, you may need to seek permission and pay a royalty fee.

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7. What about non-Duke CME programs?

It all depends... Here are some questions to ask:

  • Is the program sponsored by a commercial or non-profit entity?
  • Are you being hired to provide training by a commercial group?
  • Is a large part of your income coming from speaking engagements?
  • Does the commercial entity have a blanket license that covers copyright?

When in doubt, seek permission to use materials.

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8. What is the TEACH Act and how does it apply to my teaching?

The TEACH Act was passed to address the needs of institutions providing distance education courses. It does NOT apply to courses taught on the campus. It only applies to students and teachers at non-profit educational institutions and gives them the right to transmit performances and displays of copyrighted works as part of a class IF certain conditions are met.

There are a number of criteria to be met and there are a lot of complex issues and definitions to be considered. Below is a general discussion of the criteria, but individuals hoping to use the TEACH Act should read the law or visit other Websites that provide information for faculty, such as the one at University of Texas Libraries.

The TEACH Act applies only to ACCREDITED, non-profit educational institutions. The educational institution must:

  • Establish a policy that governs the use of copyrighted materials.
  • Distribute accurate information to faculty and students on copyright.
  • Promote compliance with the copyright law.
  • Provide the students with a notice that the materials may be covered under copyright.

If an institution meets all these criteria, then faculty can use the TEACH Act for distance education courses.

Then the faculty members needs to determine if the types of materials are covered by the act:

  • Performances of non-dramatic literary or musical work
  • Performances or displays of reasonable portions of other works; reasonable portions are defined as those amounts that would be used in a normal class setting

The following materials are NOT permitted under the Act:

  • Digital educational materials that are designed and sold to be used in a classroom setting through mediated instruction - the institution must purchase a copy of the work for this purpose
  • Copies not acquired lawfully (e.g., purchasing the item), such as a copy of a video tape owned by another institution

Even if the use of materials is permitted, there are additional criteria that must be met:

  • The use of materials has to be under the direct supervision of the teacher.
  • It has to be a part of the class session and not something to be viewed before or after the class session; it must be part of a mediated instructional activity.
  • The material must be directly related to and of importance to the teaching of the content.
  • Transmission of the materials must be directly sent to and limited to the students in the class.
  • Technological measures must be taken to ensure the material is not accessible beyond the class session and cannot be further disseminated.
  • There is no tampering with the copyright holder's technological measures for preventing retention and redistribution.

Analog versions (paper, film, video) may be converted to digital formats IF:

  • A digital version is not available for purchase or lease
  • The available digital version has technological measures that protect it from being used under the provisions of the TEACH Act.

The TEACH Act is complex, but does allow the use of materials for distance education not covered under the original copyright law. However, faculty who wish to use the provisions under the Act must ensure that their institutional policies are in place and all other criteria are met.

Best Practices

  • Duke does have established copyright policies and information provided to students and faculty.
  • However, you must carefully read over the criteria for the types of materials and situations when it can be used.
  • Make sure you have protected sites for transmitting the materials to registered student and that access to materials is limited to the class time.
  • Purchase materials designed for distance learning.
  • Seek permission or pay the royalty fees for using the works if they are not covered under the TEACH Act.

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9. Can I show videos in a class?

Many faculty members want to use videos in class. A specific exception to the copyright law allows such public performances in the course of face-to-face instruction, in other words within the classroom setting. While the best practice is to use selected clips or excepts from a video the exception does extend to showing entire films.

However, the rules change when the classroom presentation is recorded and transmitted to a distance education site or mounted on a Web course site. These circumstances no longer fall into the face-to-face teaching exception, so we have to look either use the TEACH Act exception or to the more general fair use provision to find justification for this practice.

The TEACH Act deals with transmission over a system that restricts access to registered students. This usually means a password protected system that requires a user to login to use the recording so other non-registered students and the general public do not have any access to it. Short clips or excerpts are allowed but it is important to restrict the amount of transmitted material as much as possible. The TEACH Act exception says that only "reasonable and limited" portions may be used in transmissions to distance education students, while fair use makes the amount of the clip used part of a balancing test of fairness. In both cases, the basic rule is that no more of a film should be used than is necessary to illustrate the point being made by the instructor.

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10. What is a notice of copyright?

The law requires that individuals be informed that materials may be copyrighted and protected under the law. Libraries have to post signs at copiers and include statements on photocopy request forms. Notice of copyright may also appear on the bottom of journal articles or on the first page. If there is no visible statement on copies that you are making for others or posting on your class Website, then you need to include the following:

"This work may be protected by copyright."

Best Practices

  • Check to see if there is a copyright statement already on the material you are copying or scanning.
  • If there is not a statement, add the copyright statement to at least the first page.
  • Use a rubber stamp or type the phrase on at least the first page of the article or chapter or below the image.
  • Make sure the copyright statement is legible and easy to view.

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1. How can I use the PDF and HTML files from electronic journals?

While many publishers allow downloading files of articles for personal use, most prohibit creating databases of these files, placing them on public or even internal Web pages, and sending them to listservs or numerous colleagues. Policies vary from journal to journal and publisher to publisher, so do not assume that all policies are the same.

Most publishers do not allow:

  • Distributing a copy of the file of the journal article to students in class.
  • Posting the PDF or HTML file on a public or even private Website.
  • Creating databases of journal articles for more than one person to use.
  • Distributing the files through Internet discussion groups.
  • Creating a CD-ROM, DVD, or flashdrive of digital files for distribution to students or colleagues.

Library and institutional subscriptions to e-journals have already paid for the right for faculty, staff, and students to have access to the articles and to make personal copies for themselves. Most e-journal licenses do allow:

  • Individual copies for personal use by anyone in the institution.
  • Links to the journal articles for electronic reserves and course management systems.
  • Repeated linking to the articles from class to class and semester to semester.

Best Practices

  • Visit the publisher's Website to determine their restrictions.
  • Make a copy for personal use only.
  • Link to article access page rather than posting a PDF on the course management system or class webpage.
  • Send the link to the article to students and colleagues via email but NOT the actual file.
  • Include only the link in an EndNote or other database that you keep for personal use.
  • Never download or distribute e-journal files unless you have determined the publisher will allow it.
  • Contact the Medical Center Library about restrictions on electronic journals.

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2. Can I scan a paper copy and distribute it?

As you can make a photocopy for personal use, you may also scan a copy of an article or book chapter for personal use. However, most publishers do not allow scanning articles to be distributed to students or colleagues or to be placed on a Website.

Under fair use, you may scan an article for a class and post it on a password-protected Website for your class once. However, you cannot distribute a copy of the digital file via email or storage media (CD-ROM, DVD, flashdrive) to the students or to your colleagues. Nor should you use the item for the same class repeatedly over several years without seeking permission.

Best Practices

  • Scan one copy for your own personal use.
  • Post the file for students on a password-protected Website for the first-time use.
  • Ask the Medical Center Library about its print and electronic reserve services.
  • Seek permission if you want to use the article repeatedly over several years.  
  • Seek permission if you want to distribute digital copies of the article to students or colleagues.

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3. May I create a packet of photocopied articles for students? Is this a course pack?

Course packs are created when an instructor selects numerous articles for the students to read and provides them with copies of those articles at the beginning of the class. The students are given a "pack" of the course's assigned readings. Course packs are not specifically illegal, but after several major court cases, many non-profit educational institutions require that faculty seek permissions for using articles and this usually involves the payment of royalty fees.

First use of copyright materials is still covered under fair use for educational purposes and permissions or royalty fees are not required. However, keeping track of this can be difficult and some institutions require that royalty fees are paid for all articles.

A course pack is defined as such whether it is in paper (photocopies) or digital format. Many publishers consider saving a lot of files on a diskette and distributing it to every student as not being fair use of their copyright-protected materials. A few publishers do permit the use of digital files, but this varies from publisher to publisher.

Course packs are definitely NOT fair use if they replace the need for a textbook or represent a substantial amount of the reading materials for a course. Publishers view course packs as having a direct impact on their market, since the students are not purchasing the usual educational materials.

Best Practices

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4. May I create a database of articles that I can share with students or colleagues?

You can create a collection or database of articles for your own personal use, but you may not make this available to students or other colleagues. However, you may create a database of links to electronic journals and books and share those links with colleagues and students.

Best Practices

  • Keep databases or collections of articles only for personal use.
  • Seek permission if you want to make the database available to others.
  • Create a database of links to electronic journals or books for use by others.

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5. May I post my own article to the Web?

If you are sure you own the copyright for it, then you are free to put the article on a Website - public or private.

However, most authors do not own the copyright and need to check their agreement with the publisher. While many publishers are allowing authors to "self-post" articles on an institutional or personal Website, there may be restrictions. Some require that you post only your original manuscript or your version of the edited manuscript. Most do NOT allow posting of the publisher's version of the final article. Many also require links back to the publisher's version.

Best Practices

  • Check your agreement with the publisher and abide by those terms.
  • If permitted, post and share your work! Put it on your Website, your course site, or on an institutional Website, such as those often maintained by libraries.
  • Make sure future agreements with publishers allow you to post your articles.

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6. May I make as many copies as I want of my own article?

When authors sign agreements with publishers to have their articles published, many turn over ALL of their copyright rights, including the right to distribute (photocopy) their articles.

However, some publishers, especially societies, do allow the authors to make copies for educational purposes and to share with other colleagues. Your agreement with the publisher will state whether there are any restrictions about this.

Best Practices

  • Check your agreement with the publisher and abide by those terms.
  • Follow fair use guidelines for classroom use, as discussed above.
  • Make sure future agreements with publishers allow you to make and distribute copies of your work.

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7. Can I use images in the online teaching modules that I develop?

Fair use does allow you to use images in digital format for internal course management systems. The same issues apply: how many images are taken from one source, how often are the same images are used, and whether proper attribution is given.

Most publishers will not permit the use of images or other materials for courses that can be accessed by the general public. Access to the materials needs to be restricted to students registered for the course or curriculum.

The same is true for courses offered for CE or CME credit to groups outside the institution.

Best Practices

  • Restrict access to online modules and materials to "students" registered for the course or curriculum. This usually requires access by an ID name and password.
  • Use only a few images or materials from one source.
  • Seek permission for repeated use over more than one semester or year.
  • Link to images and other materials on the Internet and do not download them.
  • Link to journal articles.
  • Pay the royalty fees if you plan to make this publicly or commercially available.

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8. Where can I find good images for presentations?

Still images in books, journals, and multimedia are copyrighted. Even images on the Internet belong to a copyright holder somewhere. Google Images and other search engines allow you to find numerous images, but you must remember that most of them are copyrighted. Apply the same fair use guidelines as for other print materials and make sure that you cite where you obtained the images. In addition, there are special guidelines and considerations for using motion images, such as from videos and motion pictures, and anyone choosing to use those formats should refer to those specific guidelines.

To assist people with images, libraries often subscribe to image sets that can be used by students and faculty within their institution. However, these images may still come with restrictions, such as extra fees for use in publications or multimedia programs. Be sure to check with the Medical Center Library about how you can use them.

Best Practices

  • Determine if the use is educational fair use.
  • Check to see what image databases may be available through the Medical Center Library; we have listed subscription and free image resources on our Medical Images subject guide.
  • If you find an image on the Internet, ask permission to use it, especially for repeated use.
  • Link to the images on the Internet and do not download them.
  • Use only one or two images from a single source for presentations.
  • Explore some of the new databases designed for faculty to share images and multimedia.
  • Seek permission or pay the fees to use images from large commercial image sets, such as the Netter series.
  • Do not use images on Websites or online materials without seeking permission from the copyright holder.

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9. Do I have to seek permission to link to something on the Internet?

Materials on the Internet are freely accessible and linking to another Website is not a violation of copyright. There is nothing preventing you from creating links to other site, even links to items deep within the Website, often referred to as "deep linking." One danger of deep linking is that content on the Web often changes location and the link that worked yesterday may not work tomorrow.

However, if you plan to have a permanent link or repeatedly refer to the Internet content of another site, you may want to contact the author or Web manager and let them know you plan to put in links and why.

Why do this?

Creators of Web content often want to know how their content is being used and by whom. It helps them assess the value of the content. They may provide you with additional information about the site, or what changes may be made in the future. They may ask you to help them evaluate their content or provide general feedback. They may also warn you if they are planning to make major changes to the site or restrict its use.

It does not take a lot of time to ask permission or contact people, and it might result in a new collaborative relationship.

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1. What does it mean to seek permission for use of copyrighted materials?

Please see the section on seeking permission for more information on the permissions process.

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2. What is the Copyright Clearance Center?

The Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) works with numerous publishers to help authors, educators, and others seek and usually pay for the right to use copyrighted materials. By representing numerous publishers, it provide a centralized service for seeking permissions to use the materials for classes, creating paper or electronic course packs, including materials in books or other published materials, and placing items on library reserves (paper or electronic). Individuals or institutions may set up accounts and requests may be made online.

The advantages of using this service are:

  • Central point for contacting many different publishers
  • Place requests for materials from several different publishers
  • Usually faster than directly contacting individual customers
  • Obtain price quote on the royalty/permission fees before using the material
  • Ease of online ordering and payment

The disadvantages of using this service include:

  • Fees to use the service, in addition to royalty payments
  • CCC looks out for publishers' interests and not for your fair use rights

Best Practices

  • Retain your fair use rights for the first time you use materials.
  • Only use the CCC or similar service if your use does not fall under fair use.
  • Use the CCC if you are using materials repeatedly over several years, though this is not stipulated by the copyright law.
  • Use the CCC to seek permissions to create digital or paper course packs of materials.
  • Contact the CCC if you are authoring a book or other material that is using copyrighted materials.

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1. Are the restrictions on sharing files the same if the journal is an open access journals?

Open Access titles - those that provide free access immediately or after a certain period of time - are still copyrighted materials either owned by the publisher or the author. You should treat them the same way as other materials. The advantage of these titles is that they are free to everyone, so placing a link to the Website on your Web page or course site gives everyone access to this resource.

Best Practices

  • Visit the publishers Website to determine their policies and restrictions.
  • Instead of making copies in a paper or digital format, give students and colleagues the URL link.
  • Put links to articles on your Website or course site for others to use.

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2. What is the Creative Commons?

Creative Commons is an alternative to traditional copyright, designed to facilitate the sharing of materials, especially those on the Internet. The Creative Commons "contracts" allow you, the author, to retain copyright while giving permission to others to use the material for non-profit purposes. If you are placing materials on the Internet, you may want to select one of the Creative Commons contracts. By placing a CC symbol on your Web page, you alert others that you permit use of your materials.

When using materials, you may also want to check to see if the Creative Commons symbol appears on the Web page or document. This may permit you to freely use the work for educational, but not commercial purposes. Read the terms of the license to see what restrictions, if any, the author has placed on the work.

Best Practices

  • Learn more about Creative Commons.
  • Use a CC contract for content on the Web.
  • Encourage other faculty to support Creative Commons.

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