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Copyright and Fair Use Guide

Copyright and Fair Use Frequently Asked Questions

Canvas and Online Education

Getting Permissions

Authors Negotiating Copyright

Authors Sharing Your Published Works

Additional Resources

FAQs: Canvas and Online Education

I would like to upload an article or chapter to Canvas or another website for a class that I'm teaching. Do I need permission from the publisher? What are my options?


Every use of copyrighted material in a course management website should be evaluated as a fair use. When a fair use analysis does not support the use, either permission should be sought or some other material that is not subject to copyright substituted. In general, material that could not be used in print without permission also may not be used in a course web site without permission.

Fair use checklists are available to help you conduct an evaluation of your intended use of copyrighted material and document your decision. One such checklist can be found at

I would like to show a video to my class. What do I need to know before I do this?

Educators can show a copyrighted film or portions of a film in a classroom without seeking permission from the copyright holders. This right, however, does not extend without complications to courseware and other tools of online education.

Digitizing a film makes an additional copy of that work which is not created when you simply show the film in class, and that digital copy, because it is so cheap and easy to distribute (or "stream") over the internet, poses a real threat to the copyright holder’s interests.

For this reason, the teaching exception to copyright that allows you to put film clips into a course management site – the TEACH Act – is more restrictive than the face to face exception.

The TEACH Act allows the “transmission” of digital works only in systems that are restricted to students registered in the class. It permits distribution of “reasonable and limited” portions of films, provided that reasonable steps are taken to prevent students from making more copies or retaining a copy of the film clip beyond the duration of the class.

The TEACH Act also requires users to avoid over riding or breaking technical protection measures ("Digital Rights Management") to stream works.

Learn more about the TEACH act and distance education at:

Content adapted from:

Duke University Libraries, Duke ScholarWorks. Copyright Advice: [BY-NC-SA]

FAQs: Getting Permissions

I would like to reuse an image, figure, model, or diagram in a work that I am submitting for publication. Do I need permission from the copyright holders?

Complete a fair use analysis before seeking permission:

If you are unsure if your use of copyrighted material meets criteria laid out in the four-factor fair use analysis, you can always ask for permission from a copyright holder to use their work.

This model permissions letter from Duke University Libraries provides a Word Document that you can explore, modify, and use yourself. Keep in mind that this is only a sample letter and specific situations will require slightly different language or documents.

FAQs: Authors Negotiating Copyright

Do I have to give my copyright to a publisher?

Not always. Academic publishers have traditionally required that authors transfer (or “assign”) their copyright to the publishers. But it is becoming more common for a publisher to accept a “non-exclusive license” to publisher your work. In that case, you would retain the copyright and be able to make subsequent uses of your own work without permission.

Even when you do transfer your copyright to a publisher, it is possible to retain rights to make certain uses of your work. It is important to read publication agreements carefully and to be ready to negotiate with publishers when necessary

If my publication agreement gives the copyright to the publisher, can I still use my own work?

Not necessarily. If you have transfer all of your rights to the publishers, putting your own work on a website or distributing copies at a scholarly conference, for example, might actually infringe the copyright, which is now owned by the publisher. This is why it is important to be careful about the publication agreement that you sign. Remember that these agreements are negotiable.

What rights should I retain when I publish a work?

One thing many faculty want to do is to use their own work in class, even after it has been published. The right to reproduce and distribute your work for non-commercial educational purposes should be retained. Likewise the right to prepare or authorize derivative works like a new article based on previous scholarship, a collection of prior writings or a translation is valuable for scholars. Also, the right to post your article on a personal web site or to place it in a repository maintained by your institution or disciplinary organization is becoming increasingly important. Studies indicate that open access actually increases the visibility and citation of your work, so retaining the right to provide such access can be very beneficial.

Content adapted from:

Duke University Libraries, Duke ScholarWorks. Copyright Advice: [BY-NC-SA]

FAQs: Authors Sharing Your Published Works

I would like to upload my published article to an open website. How can I do this without violating the terms of my copyright agreement?

Most journal publishers (including Elsevier, SAGE, Springer, Taylor & Francis, and Wiley) permit authors to upload the accepted manuscript (after peer review, but prior to copyediting) in institutional repositories (such as IUPUI ScholarWorks: at no cost to the author. Over 80% of the world’s 1.1 million articles published in 2010 could be archived under current copyright law within one year of publication (Laakso, M. 2014, Scientometrics, In Press.

Furthermore, as of October 7, 2014, IUPUI faculty authors have retained their copyrights to the scholarly articles under the IUPUI Open Access Policy. To exercise your rights under the Open Access Policy or to request a waiver for a publisher, visit:

How do I know if my publisher permits me to share my published work on an open website?

Read your copyright transfer agreement, search for self-archiving policy on the publisher's website, or visit SHERPA/RoMEO, a database of copyright policies: