Determining whether a work is copyrighted is not as easy as it seems. It’s more than simply looking for a copyright symbol (©), which is no longer required. To be safe, you should assume that a work is copyrighted unless determined otherwise. In addition, more than likely what you really want to know is whether or not you can use a work in a particular instance. Here are some questions to help you determine copyright and/or use rights:
The following cannot be copyrighted:
This may seem like a simple question; however, many authors do not know or mistakenly assume that they do. Publishers usually require authors to sign a contract stipulating who maintains the copyright and/or the use rights. As an author you need to check the terms of the contract to determine whether or not you have permission to use the work as desired (For information on how to negotiate and maintain use rights, see Sharing Your Work).
Note: authors maintain copyright to their thesis or dissertation. This is true even if derivative works, such books and articles, are created.
If so, most likely you can use the work; however, depending on the nature of the work and the specific use, you may need to contact the Liberty University unit from which the work originated.
Many electronic resources are licensed for specific uses and users. For example, a software program may be licensed for institutional use or personal use. Sharing a program purchased for personal use is prohibited.
If you want to use an article that is available in one of the Library’s electronic databases for instructional purposes, we recommend creating a persistent link and inserting the link into Blackboard.
Note that you will need permission from the copyright holder which may or may not be the author. The two are frequently not one and the same. See Obtaining Permission for information on how to identify the copyright holder and obtain permission.
Works in the public domain are no longer copyrighted and can be freely used. Works may be in the public domain for several reasons:
The rules for determining whether a protected work is in the public domain are set out in chart form here. These rules are complex and somewhat hard to describe, partly because they have changed numerous times during the 20th century. The general rules (excluding anonymous works and works for hire) can be summarized as follows:
In addition, books published in the U.S. between 1923 and 1963 can be searched in Stanford's Copyright Renewal Database.
Content Content adapted from “Copyright in the Library,” University of Texas System. Used under a Created Commons license.