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Copyright & Fair Use

Copyright protects original creations from being used by others without permission.

Almost everything in print or online is protected by copyright. This includes books, articles, photographs, artwork, videos, music and more. Copyrights are given automatically in the US and give the creator exclusive rights to decide if or how others may use or distribute their works.

The information here is a brief overview. For more information on copyright, refer to:

U.S. Government copyright overview: Copyright Basics

UNE’s Copyright Policy

Using Copyrighted Works

You will frequently refer to the copyrighted works of others while doing scholarly research. In order to avoid copyright violations:

Always Cite

Always cite someone else’s work when you refer to it so that you aren’t seen as taking credit for their ideas. Taking credit for someone else’s work is plagiarism. Learn more plagiarism and academic integrity at UNE.

We have style guides with detailed examples to help you with formatting citations.

Fair Use

There are times when you are allowed to use some portion of copyrighted materials without express permission, including for personal and educational use. This is known as fair use.  Use our Fair Use Checklist [PDF] to help decide if your use is fair. You still need to cite the work wherever you incorporate it into your own.

Link, Don’t Send

Posting or sharing copyrighted materials with others or online, including on social media, could be copyright infringement or a violation of our Use of Licensed Materials policy.

Share a link to the item’s original source rather than making a copy or sending a PDF.

Ask for Permission

If you aren’t sure whether a work is copyrighted, assume that it is. If you don’t think you have a case for fair use, contact the work’s creator to request permission to use it.

How to find a copyright holder .

The Public Domain

Creators can choose to give up their copyright so their work can be used by anyone in whatever way they wish. This places the work in the public domain. Works in the public domain will indicate this with a phrase or license mark such as those offered by Creative Commons.  

Older works with expired copyrights are also in the public domain. Use this chart by Peter Hirtle at Cornell University to help determine if older works are in the public domain.

Still cite! Even if the work is in the public domain, citing the creator helps people know that you aren’t claiming to have created it and directs them to the original source.

head shot of Sonya Durney smiling.
Sonya Durney, Scholarly Communication Research & Teaching Librarian

Get Help

Copyright is complex and the penalties for infringement are severe! Contact Scholarly Communications Research & Teaching Librarian, Sonya Durney with any questions about copyright.