Before you dig into the details of this page please watch this short 2 minute video (below) which will give you a basic understanding of five key facts of U.S. Copyright Law.
Copyright is a form of legal protection that allows authors and other creators to control their original, creative work. The work must also be "fixed in a tangible medium of expression" - written on a piece of paper, saved on a computer hard drive, or recorded on an audio or video tape. Copyright occurs automatically at the creation of a new work. In general, copyright holders have the exclusive right to do, and to authorize others to do, the following:
What's protected by copyright?
Original or creative expressions fixed in a tangible medium, such as:
Copyright protection term lengths
Current (works created on or after 1978)
Works created before 1979 can have various copyright term lengths. The Digital Copyright Slider can be used to help define how long the protection of an item may last.
More information from the U.S. Copyright Office:
Copyright protects works that are:
Copyright does not protect:
However, copyright may protect the way these facts, ideas, and systems are expressed, such as:
Though copyright does not protect names, titles, and phrases, trademark law may protect them.
What to know:
What to know:
The creator usually is the initial copyright holder. If two or more people jointly create a work, they are joint holders of the copyright, with equal rights. When authors publish, sometimes they sign their copyright over to the publishers.
If a work is created as a part of a person's employment, that work is a "work for hire" and the copyright belongs to the employer, unless the employer explicitly grants rights to the employee in a signed agreement.
As a student, you hold the copyright in your academic works. In addition, K-State holds a nonexclusive, royalty free license to mark on, modify, and retain your academic works (meaning that K-State instructors may markup, modify, and keep your academic works and writings as part of the instructional activities.)
If you are a student employee, you may or may not hold the copyright to the works you create while under the employment of K-State.
Please see the chart below for more clarification on copyright holders at K-State. For further explanation, please read Section I of K-State's Intellectual Property Policy.
|Why/how did you create the work?||Who holds the copyright?||Exceptions|
As part of the normal course of your employment at K-State
(e.g. a student worker creating a poster for a K-State event)
The copyright may be held by you if:
As a K-State employee using substantial institutional resources when creating the work
(e.g. a Graduate Teaching Assistant uses software licensed to K-State to create teaching materials)
"Substantial use" is defined as receiving staff, salary, or material support beyond that normally provided to the creators at K-State.
K-State owns the copyright to the specific materials but not to the intellectual content of the courseware.
In the course of your employment for scholarly or artistic means
(e.g. a Graduate Research Assistant taking photos for a research project under the direction of a faculty member)
Scholarly and artistic works can include "textbooks, scholarly monographs, trade publications, maps, charts, articles in popular magazines and newspapers, novels, nonfiction works, supporting materials, artistic works, syllabi, lecture notes, and like works" (University Handbook, Appendix R: Intellectual Property Policy and Institutional Procedures, Section I.A.).
The copyright may not be held by you if:
As a student as part of a course at K-State
(e.g. your academic works)
|You||The copyright will always be held by you, but K-State holds a nonexclusive, royalty-free license to mark on, modify, and retain your academic works.|
Step-by-step, follow the guidelines below or use the infographic (left) when reusing content.
Plagiarism is an ethical issue and a violation of university policy.
This policy (specifically Section II-A) outlines definitions of plagiarism and how to avoid it.
Copyright Infringement is a legal concept in which an individual either does not seek permission to use a work or the use does not fall under an exception in U.S. Copyright Law (such as Fair Use).
Public domain works (e.g. most works published before 1923), do not need citations/attribution; under U.S. Copyright Law, these works are free to use however you want. However, not citing is a form of plagiarism even though you may not be committing copyright infringement.
As an author, you are encouraged to take an active role in managing your copyrights. As the original copyright holder you have the right to reproduce the work, prepare derivative works, distribute copies, and perform and display the work publicly. However, many authors traditionally have transferred some or all of these rights to a commercial publisher in order to publish a journal article or book chapter. Before working with a publisher, it’s important to think about any rights you may need in the future. Read and understand the publisher’s agreement before signing. Know what rights it allows you to retain. There are 3 basic options when dealing with publishers:
Transfer copyright but negotiate some or all of the rights with the publisher.
The use of a Creative Commons license allows you can grant permission up front allowing others to use your work in ways that you specify.
That depends. Original works that are fixed in a tangible form are automatically copyrighted. The work does not have to be registered or published with the copyright symbol to be protected. However, you cannot sue someone for copyright infringement or claim statutory damages if your work is not registered. In general, copyright registration is a legal formality intended to make a public record of a particular copyright.
You may register a work at any time while it is still in copyright. Registering is not difficult and can be done online. Visit the United States Copyright Office website for instructions and forms.
As a graduate student, you will likely be expected to write an Electronic Thesis/Dissertation/Report (ETDR). While you may not hold copyright to all the images and figures you cite in your ETDR, you hold the copyright to your ETDR. This means you have the right to reproduce, prepare derivative works, distribute copies, and perform the work.
In addition, you might be reusing copyrighted content, such as images and figures, in your ETDR. While proper citation is important, you must also comply with U.S. Copyright Law when reusing content in your ETDR. Please refer to Reusing Content for more information. Also, take a look at the "Copyrightability of Tables, Charts, and Graphs" from the University of Michigan.
If you write an ETDR, you will be expected to submit your it to the K-State Research Exchange (K-REx) when completed. Doctoral students will also be expected to deposit their dissertations in ProQuest. When you submit your ETDR, you are giving K-REx and ProQuest (if applicable) the right to host and distribute your ETDRs.
Take a few moments to read through "Copyright and Your Dissertation or Thesis: Ownership, Fair Use, and Your Rights and Responsibilities," which will give you a better understanding of the common scenarios involving copyright encountered by graduate students when conducting research.
As a graduate or doctoral student, you may decide to use a chapter or section from your ETDR and publish it as a scholarly article in an online academic journal before you upload your final ETDR to K-REx. When you submit an article for publication in an academic journal, the publisher may ask you to sign over copyright during the submission process as soon as the article is accepted for publication. In this circumstance, you would no longer hold copyright of the content in that article, which means that a portion of your ETDR's copyright is now held by the publisher. You no longer have the right to reproduce and distribute copies of the article or ETDR chapter without permission from the copyright holder (the publisher), which includes depositing your ETDR into K-REx. The majority of publishers, however, are usually flexible and will allow you to deposit your ETDR into an institutional repository, such as K-REx. If you have published a section of your ETDR with an academic journal and are no longer the copyright holder, you will need to request permission from the publisher before you submit your ETDR to K-REx.
Alternatively, if you have not yet submitted a chapter or section of your ETDR as an article to an academic journal but want to do so, you may want to retain some of your rights. In order to do this, you can attach a contract addendum before you sign your contract or choose an open access journal. Keep in mind that many publishers now use "click-through" agreements that ask you to sign over copyright during the submission process. If you wish to retain your rights:
If the publisher requests that you not host your ETDR on K-REx due to copyright restrictions, you can request an embargo period. You are expected to discuss embargoes with your academic advisor for approval before submitting to K-REx.
If you have already submitted your ETDR to K-REx, and you decide to publish an article using content or sections from your ETDR, you will need to notify the publisher or journal that the content of the article is already hosted online on K-REx. The majority of publishers will not have a problem with this, but you do need to notify them of this, especially if they ask you to sign over copyright, because the publisher now has the exclusive right to reproduce and distribute the article and its content.