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Copyright Basics

This guide offers basic copyright information for users of copyrighted materials.

Exceptions: What copyrighted work can I use without asking permission?

Assume that most works you want to use are copyrighted and need permission.

Check for clear copyright statements, or terms of use.

You do not need to seek permission if …

  • The material is not or cannot be copyrighted
  • You merely link to it
  • The material is in the Public Domain
  • The material clearly states that re-use is permitted or it is openly licensed through Creative Commons (ex. CC-BY)
  • Your use can be considered Fair Use

Always cite your source.

Educational Uses

Watch this 5-minute video from the U.S. Copyright Office (Learning Engine Series) created in 2019.

"Are you an educator or student that wonders what materials you can use for your lessons or classwork? In this video on copyright and educational uses, we explain the exceptions and limitations under copyright law for using other people’s works for educational purposes. You will also learn the difference between copyright infringement and plagiarism."

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