Copyright Guide

As accessibility to digital content increases, and we find ourselves both using and contributing to a broad variety of content styles, it is important to understand copyright and the principles of Fair Use.

Following are some general guidelines and resources to help you make the best choices when it comes to knowing what you can use, how to use it, and how to protect your own scholarly and creative endeavors.

Fast Facts
The practice of quoting copyrighted works, including print media, audio and video sources, is generally permissible provided:

  • sources are properly attributed
  • the use is appropriate and adds value
  • the use of quoted material is not excessive (i.e. beyond what’s necessary to illustrate a point)

Just because you do not see a copyright notice (name, date, ©) does not mean that a work is not copyrighted. In March of 1989, the US signed the Berne Convention Implementation Act, which made inclusion of the copyright notice optional.

When copying materials (articles, short story, chart, diagram, picture, cartoon, etc.) for a class, you must include the copyright notice and you may make only one copy per student.

The 10% rule for video has no basis in fact. The law does not specify an allowable percentage under Fair Use. The general understanding is that you may use only enough material to make your point.

When making a video, you do not need to obtain releases from people appearing in your video who were in places where there was no expectation of privacy, such as a public park or streets. If you focus on any specific person at all, however, you will need a signed release.

It is always good practice to give credit when using video footage, imagery, music or other content that is not your own, even if listing an author or artist is not stated as a requirement of use.

Fair Use applies to all types of media—digital or analog—including print, video, audio, web sites, etc.

Educational use is not automatically Fair Use.

Visit the Hoover Library Copyright in Higher Education page for more information as well as copyright-related resources for faculty, staff and students.