Copyright is a form of legal protection that allows authors and other creators to control their original, creative work. The work must 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. In general, copyright holders have the exclusive right to do, and to authorize others to do, the following:
Copyright protects literary, musical, dramatic, choreographic, pictorial, graphic, sculptural, audiovisual, and architectural works.
Copyright occurs automatically at the creation of a new work. You do not have to provide a copyright notice on your work to receive copyright protection. However, if you are making your work publicly available, it's a very good idea to include a copyright information, along with your contact information, so that people who want to re-use your work will be able to get in touch with you. A good copyright notice might look something like: "© 2008 J. Doe. For permissions and questions contact firstname.lastname@example.org."
For course content please see the Protecting Your Course Content section below.
For works created since March 1, 1989, copyright lasts from the moment a work is created until 70 years after the death of the author, except for works produced by a company/employer in which case the copyright lasts 120 years from the date of creation. Works created before this date can have various copyright protection. The Digital Copyright Slider can be used to help define how long the protection of an item may last.
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. Note that this may differ from common academic conduct and expectations, where the lead author may be considered more important than the others.
If a work is created as a part of a person's employment, that work is a "work made for hire" and the copyright belongs to the employer, unless the employer explicitly grants rights to the employee in a signed agreement. Faculty writings (including "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") at K-State are not treated as "work made for hire"; visit the Intellectual Property Policy, Appendix R of the K-State University Handbook for more information.
In the case of work by independent contractors or freelancers, the copyright belongs to the contractor or freelancer unless otherwise negotiated beforehand, and agreed to in writing. Please visit Circular 9: Works Made for Hire from the U.S. Copyright Office for more information on "work made for hire."
It is possible to transfer a copyright; this frequently happens as a part of publishing agreements. In many cases, the publisher holds the copyright to a work, and not the author. A valid copyright transfer requires a signed written agreement.
If you are an employee at K-State, you may or may not hold the copyright to the content you create in the course of your employment. Generally, full-time staff members at K-State do not hold the copyright to the materials they create in the course of their work duties, especially if the content is specifically related to K-State. In this case, copyright is held by Kansas State University and the work is considered a "work made for hire" under U.S. copyright law and by K-State's Intellectual Property Policy. Please refer to Section I: Copyrights of the policy for more information.
You should consider the questions in the chart below to determine whether you or K-State hold the copyright to the work you create while working, teaching, writing, and/or creating content at K-State.
|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. an employee becomes a web content editor/creator for K-State and creates content for a departmental website)
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.|
The United States Copyright Office is the number one authority on copyright in the US. Please refer to their documentation and instructions if you have additional questions about their website or information. Current copyright law can be found at http://copyright.gov/title17/.
(a) Copyright protection subsists, in accordance with this title, in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. Works of authorship include the following categories:
(1) literary works;
(2) musical works, including any accompanying words;
(3) dramatic works, including any accompanying music;
(4) pantomimes and choreographic works;
(5) pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
(6) motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
(7) sound recordings; and
(8) architectural works.
(b) In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work.
Subject to sections 107 through 122, the owner of copyright under this title has the exclusive rights to do and to authorize any of the following:
(1) to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords;
(2) to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work;
(3) to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
(4) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works, to perform the copyrighted work publicly;
(5) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to display the copyrighted work publicly; and
(6) in the case of sound recordings, to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.
Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—
(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.
Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, the following are not infringements of copyright:
(1) performance or display of a work by instructors or pupils in the course of face-to-face teaching activities of a nonprofit educational institution, in a classroom or similar place devoted to instruction, unless, in the case of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, the performance, or the display of individual images, is given by means of a copy that was not lawfully made under this title, and that the person responsible for the performance knew or had reason to believe was not lawfully made;
(2) except with respect to a work produced or marketed primarily for performance or display as part of mediated instructional activities transmitted via digital networks, or a performance or display that is given by means of a copy or phonorecord that is not lawfully made and acquired under this title, and the transmitting government body or accredited nonprofit educational institution knew or had reason to believe was not lawfully made and acquired, the performance of a nondramatic literary or musical work or reasonable and limited portions of any other work, or display of a work in an amount comparable to that which is typically displayed in the course of a live classroom session, by or in the course of a transmission, if—
(A) the performance or display is made by, at the direction of, or under the actual supervision of an instructor as an integral part of a class session offered as a regular part of the systematic mediated instructional activities of a governmental body or an accredited nonprofit educational institution;
(B) the performance or display is directly related and of material assistance to the teaching content of the transmission;
(C) the transmission is made solely for, and, to the extent technologically feasible, the reception of such transmission is limited to—
(i) students officially enrolled in the course for which the transmission is made; or
(ii) officers or employees of governmental bodies as a part of their official duties or employment; and
(D) the transmitting body or institution—
(i) institutes policies regarding copyright, provides informational materials to faculty, students, and relevant staff members that accurately describe, and promote compliance with, the laws of the United States relating to copyright, and provides notice to students that materials used in connection with the course may be subject to copyright protection; and
(ii) in the case of digital transmissions—
(I) applies technological measures that reasonably prevent—
(aa) retention of the work in accessible form by recipients of the transmission from the transmitting body or institution for longer than the class session; and
(bb) unauthorized further dissemination of the work in accessible form by such recipients to others; and
(II) does not engage in conduct that could reasonably be expected to interfere with technological measures used by copyright owners to prevent such retention or unauthorized further dissemination;
If you are using library-licensed materials for an online course, such as on Canvas, you should consider providing permalinks or citations of the specific resource rather than including them in Canvas for students to download directly; this is beneficial for two to three reasons:
Need help with permalinks? Check out the Permalinks for Electronic and Physical Resources or use LinkIt to create an accessible link. For information about permalinks, check out Linking to Online Resources: Using Permalinks.
Word of Caution: The Harvard Business Review has a license agreement with EBSCO that explicitly restricts the inclusion of links to its articles in courses, such as through Canvas or in a syllabus. In other words, it is not permissible to link to HBR articles in your courses. The large majority of journals and publishers do not have such restrictions, but if there are restrictions such as this, they are usually communicated clearly on the journal or database. If you have specific questions, please contact a librarian.
When using others' materials in your courses, you should also ensure that you are complying with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and with U.S. trademark law. If you wish to be able to use your students' work(s) in future coursework or for other purposes, you should obtain a FERPA waiver.
Written consent for a FERPA waiver must be signed and dated by the eligible student and:
FERPA Waiver Example
I, a student at a postsecondary educational institution or a student age 18 years or older, ________________________ , consent to the release of personally identifiable information from my education records or I, parent or guardian of a student at a secondary educational institution under the age of 18, _______________ consent to the release of personally identifiable information from the education records of my son/daughter.
I understand that the records to be disclosed include XXX and other personally identifiable information from my education records. I acknowledge that the purpose of the disclosure is to assist XXX in XXX.
I understand that the personally identifiable information will be disclosed by the educational institution to anyone with access to the world wide web.
Signature of Parent or Student
Trademarks, like copyrights and patents, are another form of intellectual property. Trademarks are recognizable and can be signs, designs, expressions, words, or symbols that help identify products and services to others in order to distinguish those services and products from others. Starbucks® coffee is an example of a trademarked name. Trademarks must be distinctive and used in commerce. For non-use of a trademark over three consecutive years without adequate control or supervision or from the trademark becoming generic, trademark rights can be lost.
If you are using a trademarked logo, design, or name, you may have already determined that your use of the image or name is fair use under U.S. copyright law, but you will also need to consider whether it is fair use under U.S. trademark law. There are two types of trademark fair use:
Essentially, if you are not using the trademark to sell or promote an actual good or service and your use does not confuse individuals with a good or service, your use could be considered fair use. However, "promoting or selling an actual service or good" is often misunderstood. You may not be making any money by using the trademark, but it could be considered promotional, and thus, it could be considered trademark infringement. For example, if you copy the K-State Powercat logo, send it to a T-shirt manufacturer, and have it printed, that would be considered unauthorized use of the trademark. You would either need to apply to become a licensee for K-State trademark promotion/apparel or seek permission from the K-State Trademark Licensing office.
Guide to Analyzing Any U.S. Copyright Problem
This is the detailed framework that outlines similar (above) easy-to-follow guidelines for solving any copyright problem with several tools and resources included. It was originally created by Kevin Smith and Lisa Macklin, who are both attorneys and copyright librarians, as a way to assist anyone in navigating where to begin regarding a "can I use it?" U.S. copyright problem. The guidelines have been adapted to better accommodate the K-State community.
Guide to Analyzing Any U.S. Copyright Problem - Infographic
This simplified infographic is a derivative of the (above) framework/guidelines that can help you analyze any copyright problem and guide you through an appropriate solution for your individual needs.
K-State Classroom Media Policy
Instructors often wish to use media, such as films and music, in the classroom. There is often conflicting information for instructors about what they can and cannot use, and what they must do in order to utilize such works in their instruction.
Section 110 (1) of U.S. copyright law states that "performance or display of a work by instructors or pupils in the course of face-to-face teaching activities of a nonprofit educational institution" is not an infringement of copyright. This section allows instructors to use films, music, artwork, poetry, prose, and other copyrighted materials in part or in their entirety, if the amount used is necessary to meet the educational objectives of the course. The copies used must be lawfully made and obtained.
While the law specifically refers to face-to-face classes, a secure online classroom that only officially enrolled students have access to, such as through K-State Online, is comparable to face-to-face teaching and use of copyrighted works in that teaching format should be evaluated under the same standard. Care should be used to limit the use of the clip to view-only and only for the duration necessary for teaching purposes.
K-State Policy on the Use of Copyrighted Works in Education and Research
Kansas State University requires compliance with copyright law and, when appropriate, supports the exercise in good faith of full fair use rights by faculty, staff, and students. See the chart in the Ownership of Copyrights at K-State section for more information. Specifically, Kansas State University:
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.
The information below will help you to understand author rights and how to retain rights when publishing. You can also use the Author Rights Checklist for Scholarly Authors to easily follow a workflow for retaining your rights when publishing your research.
Before working with a publisher or journal you should consider:
Before working with a publisher, it’s important to research a publisher's copyright policies. You can search the SHERPA/RoMEO database to find information about specific journals and publishers; the database will let you know a publisher's policies on what version of an article you can archive and where you can archive the article (such as on an institutional repository, like K-REx, or on your personal website or academic social media profile).
It's also important to think about any rights you may want to secure in the future and to fully read and understand your contract before signing. Publisher copyright policies usually do not cover every aspect of a contract, and if you are publishing in a special issue of a journal, for example, there may be more specific stipulations in the contract that either restrict or expand your author rights. 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.
Made a mistake and signed your rights away already? It may not be too late. You could renegotiate or maybe terminate with this tool from Creative Commons and Authors Alliance: https://creativecommons.org/2017/10/11/termination-of-transfer-tool/
Course content can be covered by copyright. It is important that this content be placed in a tangible format. Please note that faculty at K-State are the copyright owners of their course content. It is highly recommended that you include the following statement within your course syllabus (Be sure to update the year and include your name):
Statement for Copyright Notification
Copyright 20xx ([your name here]) as to this syllabus and all lectures. During this course students are prohibited from selling notes to or being paid for taking notes by any person or commercial firm without the express written permission of the professor teaching this course.
You may wish to verbally draw attention on the first day of classes to any such statements that you include in your syllabus. In addition to giving the notice of copyright, you should take steps to assure that your lectures and any other material you wish to protect are fixed in a tangible medium of expression and hence protected under the copyright laws. For this purpose, you can make detailed lecture notes, use detailed overheads, slides or online presentation slides, or record your lectures. These steps will strengthen your right to claim copyright in your lectures and will notify students of restrictions on their use. If you have lecture notes posted on a website, you may wish to apply a copyright notice as well. You can simply add the following information to your website: Copyright 20xx (your name here).
Because you are the copyright holder it is important for you to be active in protecting your content. Sites will use the university name and information to solicit students to post information on your course. You should warn students that posting your content is not allowed and could be a violation of the Student Code of Conduct, Article VI Section 3.A.21. The procedure for this process is available within the Student Government Association Bylaws, http://www.k-state.edu/sga/old_files/bylaws.html. If you have taken active steps to protect your course content, upon request, the university may send a "cease and desist" letter to any company soliciting students to violate our Student Code of Conduct. As the holder of the copyright you also have the right to seek legal representation and pursue litigation. If you decide to take this step you may consider registering your copyright.
Copyright protection is automatic and begins the moment the work is placed into a tangible form. A work does not need to be registered to be protected by copyright law. If copyright is automatic and processing can take over one year you may ask why one would want to register for copyright. Copyright registration can give you additional benefits like:
Schedule of fees available at: http://copyright.gov/docs/fees.html.
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.
The use of a Creative Commons license allows you to grant permission up front. This allows others to use your work in ways that you specify. You can also decide to submit your content directly into the public domain.
Often, there are multiple versions of the same name (e.g. E.M. Smith, Elaine M. Smith, E. Smith) in databases, such as Scopus and Web of Science, and on Google Scholar. As a result, impact metrics, such as citation counts, can be inaccurate and either account for too many or too few within a single database. An advantageous step to take towards preventing author disambiguation is to sign up for an ORCID. To learn more, please visit the Scholarly Communications page.
K-State Intellectual Property Policy - This document describes Kansas State University's policies and associated institutional procedures for intellectual property.
Kansas Board of Regents Policy & Procedures Manual - Intellectual Property Policy.
Illegal File Sharing at K-State - Sharing and downloading copyrighted music, movies, and games from the Internet without proper authorization is considered piracy-a violation of federal copyright laws and K-State policy.
K-State Peer-to-Peer (P2P) File Sharing Policy - The purpose of this policy is to articulate Kansas State University's position on the use of Peer-to-Peer file sharing applications and the unauthorized acquisition or distribution of copyrighted or licensed material.
K-State Course Syllabi Copyright Statement - These Course Syllabi statements are provided by the Office of the Provost and Senior Vice President. The Copyright Statement can be found under "Optional Syllabi Statements".
Showing Films at K-State - Guidelines for student organizations wanting to show films publicly on campus.
Policy on the Use of Copyrighted Works in Education and Research - Policy setting forth K-State's position on the use of copyrighted works in education and research, meeting the requirements of the Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization ("TEACH") Act of 2002's safe harbor provision.
Using Media in the Classroom - Instructors often wish to use media, such as films and music, in the classroom. This guide provides more information on using media in the classroom.
U.S.Copyright Office - The site where you can register your copyrights, renew copyrights, search copyright records, and learn more about copyright law.
Creative Commons - A non-profit organization that works to increase the amount of scholarly works (cultural, educational, and scientific content) in "the commons" — the body of work that is available to the public for free and legal sharing, use, repurposing, and remixing.
Science Commons - A Creative Commons project "meant to lift legal and technical barriers to research and discovery".
Copyright Genie The Copyright Genie will walk you through the steps to determine if a work is in copyright and, if it is, when it will enter the public domain.
Digital Copyright Slider From the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy, a visual and interactive way to figure out if something is under copyright.
Fair Use Evaluator This tool helps you make a fair use evaluation and provides a PDF document of your evaluation for your records.
Interactive Guide to Using Copyrighted Media in Your Courses This interactive guide from Baruch College at the City University of New York helps faculty determine the appropriate guidelines to follow for using different types of media in face-to-face classes and online classes.
Copyright Renewals Database This is a database of copyright renewal records for US Class A (book) renewals received by the US Copyright Office between 1950 and 1992 for books published in the US between 1923 and 1963.
Copyright Term Calculator Use information on hand to determine whether or not a specific work is in the public domain. This calculator takes into account the potential restoration of copyright for items published outside of the U.S. due to Uruguay Round Agreements Act.
Catalog of Copyright Entries These PDF files can be used to find copyright renewal records for items that aren’t US Class A (books) renewals. Note: Copyright renewal had to occur sometime during the 28th year, however sometimes the Library of Congress could be slow in publishing said renewals. To maximize the search, look for the renewal records from the 27th to the 29th year.
Exceptions for Instructors eTool Guide This tool helps you determine if your intended use meets the requirements set out in the law and provides a PDF document for your records.
TEACH Act at the Copyright Crash Course Introduction to and explanation of the TEACH Act and how it may facilitate use of copyrighted works in the classroom. This site also includes a checklist to determine if a work qualifies.
Creative Commons License Tool Follow the steps to choose the appropriate Creative Commons license for your creative or scholarly work.
Section 108 Spinner Use this spinner/tool to find out if the reproduction of a work is permissible under Section 108: Limitations on exclusive rights: Reproduction by libraries and archives.
Copyright.gov Public Catalog (1978-Present) This database shows records of all copyright registrations for all works dating from January 1, 1978, to the present, as well as renewals and recorded documents.
Copyright.gov Copyright Records (Pre-1978) This ongoing project presents records of copyright ownership from the United States Copyright Office for the period from July 1891 through December 1977.