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Copyright Guide

What is Copyright?

The Copyright Office of the United States has put out a video about copyright - "What is Copyright?," that may be helpful to view. The U.S. Copyright Office's website,, also contains many copyright and fair-use resources.

Fair Use

Fair use allows for the use of copyright-protected works for educational purposes, as well as for commentary, parody, news reporting, and research.

Eastern Florida State College's Fair Use Analysis Checklist (open form in Adobe Acrobat to fill in) is to be completed when you plan to use copyrighted content on campus, or in face-to-face and/or online classrooms. Directions and additional information are included on the Checklist form.

Fair Use resources:

Using Copyrighted Content

EFSC & Copyright

Tips for Using Internet Content

  1. Start with the assumption that copyright applies. Always assume that any image or other work you find online or elsewhere is copyright protected and you need permission to use it. Undertake research to determine the content's copyright status and whether in fact you do need permission to use it.
  2. Ask for permission. Don’t use copyright-protected works unless you have permission from the copyright holder. Check to see if your enterprise has a copyright permissions procedure; if not, develop your own. Remember that being unable to locate a copyright owner or not receiving a response to your request doesn’t allow you to use copyright material. Consider alternatives as discussed below.
  3. Consider alternatives. There are numerous alternatives to getting permission from a copyright holder to use a work, including:
  • Linking — You can link to a legitimate source of the work, such as on the creator’s or copyright owner’s website.
  • Use just the facts and data — You can state facts, history, news or events as long as you don’t reproduce the exact wording of their reporting.
  • Describe and summarize — Describe the image or provide a brief summary of an article in your own words.
  • Create your own — Can you present the data in a chart that you create yourself? Can you take your own photograph? Bear in mind that your employer could own copyright in any works you create in the course of employment.
  • Use a stock photo agency or a Creative Commons license — Does your organization have an account with a stock photo agency that has an image that suits your purpose? Can you find a suitable work that’s covered by a Creative Commons license? In either case, read the terms and conditions of the license, and honor any restrictions that apply. Neither of these licenses means automatic permission or permission in all circumstances.
  • Does fair use apply? If you’re using the work in the U.S., you could apply the fair use provision of the Copyright Act, if your enterprise supports this. Consult your internal policy, copyright specialist or legal counsel before proceeding. If you're in another country that also has fair use or fair dealing, consider whether it applies to your particular uses. 

Think globally. The information presented above applies to use of copyright-protected works in the U.S., but copyright law varies among countries. There are differences in copyright durations, moral rights and ownership of works created in employment, just as a few examples.

Copyright 2022 Lesley Ellen Harris, from 1/16/2022 listserv post. Please share, per author.