Five Facts About U.S. Copyright Law
The video (below) will give you a basic understanding of U.S. Copyright Law before you dig into more details on this page.
What's protected by copyright?
What is not protected by copyright?
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.
Current copyright protection term lengths (works created on or after 1978):
Notice & Registration
What to know:
What to know:
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 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.