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Copyright owners have certain exclusive rights with respect to the copyrighted work. These include the right to:

  • Reproduce or distribute the work
  • Prepare derivative works
  • Publicly display or publicly perform the work

In other words, a person must seek permission from the copyright holder in order to do any of the above listed activities.  To proceed without permission could be considered a copyright violation.  Learn more:

Fair Use

Fair Use is a legal exemption to the exclusive rights of copyright holders. It is determined on a case-by-case basis and is based on a consideration of the following four factors:

  • The purpose and character of the use (including whether it is transformative, commercial, non-profit, or educational)
  • The nature of the copyrighted work
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion to be used
  • The effect upon the potential market for the copyrighted work

Cornell University Library has developed a useful guide and checklist to assist faculty in determining whether their use is fair: Cornell University Fair Use Checklist

Other Helpful Links:

U.S. Copyright Office Fair Use Index

Creative Commons

Creative Commons licenses allow copyright holders to grant the public certain permissions in advance.  These are legally binding alternatives to the traditional "All Rights Reserved" copyright notice. Materials that display a Creative Commons license allow for certain, specific uses.

Learn how to identify and interpret Creative Commons licenses here:

Public Domain

Copyright protections expire after a certain period of time.  Works with expired copyright have entered into the public domain, meaning they belong to everyone, without restriction.  Determining what is or isn't in the public domain can be complicated.  Generally, all works published in the U.S. prior to 1929 are in the public domain, as well as any work published by a U.S. governmental agency.

Use this Cornell University guide to help you determine whether an item is in the public domain: 

Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States (Cornell University Library)  

Library Licensed Materials

The Assumption University Library has license agreements in place for various types of resources, including journal articles, ebooks, streaming video, and more.  These license agreements give Assumption University students, faculty, and staff the ability to legally access and use specific copyrighted works for educational purposes. These works can be linked directly from a Brightspace course and are accessible both on and off campus.

For help searching our library materials, please contact: