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Copyright information and resources for NEOMED faculty, staff, & students.

I'm a student. Do I need to worry about copyright law?


Students of the university must follow and abide by United States copyright laws. Distributing copyrighted material, which includes movies, music, and software, to others could constitute an infringement of these laws. Students must be aware of the terms of use when reproducing or printing materials from the library, especially digital resources. It is the student’s responsibility to verify that he or she is reproducing material in a legitimate way.  

The NEOMED student honor code states that students shall not:

  • violate Federal or State laws, the rules and regulations of the college, associated hospitals, consortium universities, other affiliated medical institutions or other applicable guidelines either stated or published. (Principle 11).

For further information on copyright, see General Copyright Information.

What Can I Do With Copyrighted Materials?

I have an article that was assigned for class, or that I found for my research. What can I do with it? 

  • Articles and other online content is still protected by copypright law. You may make a copy of an article for your own personal, non-commercial use only. 

  • Items should not be copied, emailed, or otherwise distributed to others. To provide others access to the information, please provide a link or citation to the article itself. 

What is the Classroom Use exemption? 

  • The Classroom Use exemption allows non-profit institutes of higher learning to use materials for teaching purposes. The classroom use exemption applies if: 

    • You are in a classroom ("or similar place devoted to instruction")

    • You are there in person, engaged in face-to-face teaching activities.

    • You are at a nonprofit educational institution.

If you meet all these requirements: the exemption gives both instructors and students broad rights to perform or display any works. The classroom use exemption does not permit the copying or distribution of copyrighted materials. Please see Fair Use to make copies for classroom use. 

The exemption does not apply to:

  • Anyone outside the nonprofit, in-person, classroom teaching environment!

  • Online - even if the course is held online or on course websites. 

  • Interactions that are not in-person - including synchronous distance learning teaching.

  • For-profit educational institutions.

I'm going to present at a school, can I use anything under the education exemption? 

  • Just because you're presenting at a school doesn't mean all materials qualify for the education exemption. If you're presenting as part of a course curriculum, materials would qualify for the education exemption. However, if you are presenting to the public OR for continuing education purposes, you must request permission to use or distribute copyrighted materials. 

How Can I Use Images?

I want to include images in a report or presentation. How can I do that? 

  • Images for a class assignment may be used, if the images are cited. Check out this guide for image citation guidelines

  • Images published online require a license or permission and must be cited. 

Some best practices for using images 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.)

Be aware that there is not a database or site where these types of materials are gathered.  Rather, the allowance is attached to images, articles, and books that you may be searching. For an example see Fundamental Neuroscience (click on U.S., notice the box on the right).

What Images Do Require Permission?

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.

Disciplinary Action for Copyright Infringement

Please see the University’s Administrative Policy on File Sharing. Students will be subjected to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal, for violating copyright laws.

Peer-to-Peer File Sharing

The Higher Education and Opportunity Act (HEOA) mandates that universities and colleges educate and provide information about copyright and copyright infringement to their students, especially in regards to peer-to-peer file sharing.

Peer-to-peer file sharing programs are not illegal, but often they are used for illegally distributing and reproducing copyrighted materials, which include movies, music, and software.  Peer-to-Peer Networks are BitTorrent (and other torrent engines), Gnutella, LimeWire, Kazaa, BearShare, iMesh, Soulseek, Vuze, and Morpheus. Students actively engaging in or allowing others to access and download copyrighted material are likely committing copyright infringement, which has legal ramifications.

The following is the Department of Education’s summary of civil and criminal penalties for violation of federal copyright laws.

“Penalties for copyright infringement include civil and criminal penalties. In general, anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or ‘statutory’ damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed. For ‘willful’ infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can, in its discretion, also assess costs and attorneys' fees. For details, see Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504, 505.

Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense.

For more information, please see the Web site of the U.S. Copyright Office at, especially the FAQ section at”