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Copyright RCL

Resources and information regarding copyright.

Student Responsibilities and Rights

Students must follow the copyright guidelines outlined throughout this policy when doing research, publishing, or presenting material in a classroom or public setting.  You should also note the following:

  • Cite where you obtained your material.  Even for PowerPoint presentations (and especially for Prezi presentations on the web), it is important to indicate where you obtained your material.  Just because it’s “on the web” does not mean it is free from copyright.  Fair use—while definitely in your favor as a student—does not mean “free to copy,” especially when it is an entire work. 
  • If using photographic material, limit your photos/illustrations to material with a Creative Commons license (see below).  Both Flickr and Google Images allow you to limit searches using their advanced searches to materials with a Creative Commons license.

Information regarding Fair Use for students is available in the Fair Use tab of this guide.

It is likewise important to realize that your work as a student is protected by copyright.  Any work you author is automatically copyrighted—whether you filed for copyright or not.  While parts of your work may be used under fair use guidelines, other reproduction requires your approval.

Detection services such as Turnitin do NOT violate your copyright, as decided in 2009 by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The text of this decision may be found here, with an interpretation here.) 

Accommodations for Students with Documented Disabilities

The Dean of Students Office, the bookstore, and the library work together to ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to materials needed for their classes. The Dean of Students Office will work with the University bookstore to request electronic textbooks. If library material is needed, and fully accessible copies are not readily available from commercial sources, the library will reproduce the material to make it available to the student. The student must agree that this material is for his/her own personal use and will not be distributed to or copied for others. The library may maintain the accessible reproduction for use in meeting the needs of other students with disabilities.

Social Media and the Culture of Sharing

Through Social media like Facebook and Twitter we have the ability to share information and knowledge easier and quicker than any other time period in history. This ability presents both opportunities and challenges within the realm of copyright. One key concept to remember?

Just because something is available on the internet does not mean that you have the rights to use it.

With copyrighted material posted to the web, there is a reasonable expectation that the material will be shared. This includes photographs, digital artwork, blog posts, YouTube videos, etc. However, the unlicensed use of someone else's copyrighted material is still prohibited. You cannot, for example, use someone else's photograph downloaded from Google Images to decorate or enhance a PowerPoint without the copyright holder's consent.  

In order to avoid copyright infringement, try the following:

  • Whenever possible, use material available under a Creative Commons license, where creators have intentionally licensed their works for certain types of uses.
  • Use works that are in the Public Domain and are no longer protected by copyright.
  • Consider if your purpose falls under Fair Use.  Memes like Grumpy Cat are considered fair use because they are transformative.