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Fair Use

Here you will learn about Fair Use and how this applies to Copyrighted material. As an educational institution, Neomed will use Fair Use often.

I'm a faculty member. What Do I Need to Know?

Copyright laws must be followed by faculty members in their use of any type of copyrighted material.

This includes:

  • Planned copying of articles for students
  • Use of images and other multimedia in course lectures

If you need to post an item online within the learning management system (Canvas), and if this item is a resource that the Library does not already own, then you will need to submit a request for purchase to the Library. While exploring purchase options, the Library will also negotiate permissions. We advise all faculty and staff involved in curriculum development to consult the Library when they have questions on how best to post items online, and we advise you to begin this process 6-12 months in advance of any course.

If the Library already owns the item that you want to include in Canvas in electronic form, then we typically advise that you pull a link from our search feature: Please contact us if you need training on how to pull these links. Posting the full-text PDF, on the other hand, typically requires permissions request. For more information, please visit our permissions page.

Publishing/Intellectual Property FAQs

Can I copyright my course lectures?

Class lectures cannot be copyrighted unless they are in a fixed format that will only change as new information is added.  While lecture notes can be copyrighted, the class presentation and discussion that builds around these notes cannot be copyrighted. 

Can I claim ownership to materials I have created?

Course instructors and other academic appointees own the material to most scholarly works created by them in the course of teaching and research.  These works typically include books, journal articles, lecture notes, course syllabi, computer code, CD-ROMSs, works of art, and performances created solely by them for independent academic effort.  Such materials can be taken by the creator to other places of employment and used by the creator in the new setting. Please see the university's Intellectual Property Policy for more information. 

What types of publications are considered to be the property of the university and not my property?

  • Sponsored works are works that were first produced in the performance of a written agreement between the university and a sponsor.  Even if you were a primary contributor to the work, the work belongs to the university and cannot be used by you without permission of the university.
  • Commissioned works are works that were specifically commissioned by the university from outside sources or from employees who are taking part in the creation of the work above and beyond their regular university employment.
  • Contracted facilities works are works that produced by non-university or university employees who are acting outside the course and scope of their employment but who are using designated university facilities.

Can I freely use information in books, journals, etc. that I have written?

You can use materials you have authored only if you have contracted with the publisher to retain your ownership of the materials.  Many authors inadvertently give away full rights to their materials to the publisher.  If you have occasion to use/reference your published work, and if the publisher has obtained full ownership of that material, you must submit a request for permission to use the material to the publisher. Check out items such as the SPARC Addendum for assistance negotiating to keep some rights to your work! This would allow you to retain/grant permission for article copies and reuse of your images. 

Do publishers normally charge for using their materials?

Some publishers charge the requestor to use their copyrighted materials, others do not.  The cost charged by the publisher will be determined at the time the request for use is submitted. 

Copyright in Courses FAQs

1.  I teach the same course every year.  May I distribute handouts containing copies of journal articles and other published materials every year if I ask the students to return them at the end of the course?

Fair Use guidelines state the following prohibitions regarding the use of copied materials: 

  • Copying shall not be repeated with respect to the same item by the same teacher from term to term [i.e., repetitive use in the same course, regardless of the frequency of the course].
  • Copying shall not substitute for the purchase of books, publishers' reprints or journals.

If the same materials are to be used each term, the instructor should request permission to use the materials from the owners of the materials each term.  Some publishers may grant permission for multiple uses over multiple terms, but most publishers grant permissions for only single terms.  Since the instructor knows the material will be used in future classes, there should be ample time for permission to be requested prior to the beginning of each course offering.

2.  I would like to use some images that I found on the web.  Can I use them without worrying about copyright?

  • No, you must follow the same rules as you would for using information from a book, movie, journal, or any other resource. Check the websites "Terms of Use" to find out if you are able to reuse, or ask permission to use, the image from their web site.

3.  I have a file of images I've collected over the years. I use these as my teaching file. I can use all these images in lectures without worrying about copyright, correct?

  • No, unless you created the images yourself, you still must worry about copyright! Images collected from articles and textbooks are still copyrighted by the publisher or author and may not be duplicated without permission. Additionally, all images must be cited - attribute your images as well!

4.  If I obtain permission from a publisher to reproduce a chapter, article, or image, is it acceptable to charge the students for this material?

  • No charge shall be made to the student beyond the actual cost charged by the owner for permitting use of the material and the cost of photocopying.

Course Lecture Image Requirements

All course lectures will be posted on the course management system. Permissible images must meet certain criteria (either be public domain images, licensed resource images, creative commons licensed images, or images that the copyright holder has made freely available) and attribution must be included.  Some best practices for this include:

  • Knowing the sources of the images as well as the allowable uses of the images
  • Attributing the source with the library's recommended citation
  • Placing a note in the slides notes specifying why the image is permissible to use, such as it falls in the public domain, is a licensed resource, is a creative commons image, permission has been granted, etc.

What Images Don't Require Permission? 

Public Domain Images

Public domain encompasses material for which no one owns or controls.  Public domain is based on the year of publication, the type of material, who published the work, and other criteria.  Some works in the public domain include works published before 1923 and works produced by the federal government.  However, in all instances of public domain works it is essential to confirm that the image and not just the text is in the public domain. 

To determine if a work is in the public domain, see the slider tool.

For more information on public domain see Stanford’s Copyright Overview 

To check for copyright renewal see Stanford’s Copyright Renewal Database

Licensed Resources with Images

Some of the resources NEOMED owns have available images for educational purposes, such as AccessMedicine, AccessPharmacy, PharmacyLibrary, & SMARTImages.  Material in OhioLink’s Electronic Journal Center and Electronic Book Center also allow educational use of images and materials. 

Creative Commons Licensed Images         

Creative Commons Licenses allow copyright holders to make their work available to the public with certain limitations.  There are six creative commons licenses (Attribution, Attribution Share Alike, Attribution No Derivatives, Attribution Non-Commercial, Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike, and Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives), but all of them allow for the use of materials in an educational context as long as proper citation is included. For help see Citing Creative Commons Licenses

The Copyright Holder has made Images Available

Occasionally, copyright holders may specify that the images or materials be freely available.  This will often appear with the copyright information at the bottom of the text, and as long as the text specifies that the intended use is allowed, the image may be used. (Some websites also specify that certain uses are allowed in their terms of use. For example images may be available to use for educational purposes, and the site may provide a required citation or information that is necessary to include in the citation.)

What Images Do Require Permission?

Images from a website, book, or journal that NEOMED does not have access to or any copyrighted materials that do not fall into the above categories require permission.

Keep in mind:

  • Obtaining permission can take up to 6 to 8 weeks!
  • Permissions are generally granted for a limited amount of time; so, remember to specify the length of time you wish to obtain permission for the images in the request.  However, some publishers only grant permission as a onetime use.  

See Permissions for more information.

How Do I Cite Images?

See the library's guide to citing images!