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Research Process: 4c. Copyright

No matter what stage of the research process you're at--only beginning, stuck in the middle, or finishing up with citation polishing--this guide is a great resource for you.

Copyright Basics

4c. The United States copyright laws are designed to prevent people from copying and distributing other people's work without permission. 

This includes both paper copies (i.e., photocopies, typewritten copies, etc.) and electronic copies (scanned or uploaded).

In an academic setting there is a fair use exception to the permission requirement, but it is only available if you meet the guidelines. If you do not meet the guidelines, permission must be sought.

Fair Use

Fair Use is a doctrine of the United States copyright law that allows limited use of copyrighted works without seeking permission typically for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. In determining whether or not use of a copyrighted work is fair the following factors should be considered:

  • the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  • the nature of the copyrighted work;
  • the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole;
  • and the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

Seeking Permission

Are you conducting a study that needs to be IRB-approved? Viterbo's Institutional Review Board (IRB) should be your first stop when seeking permission to begin a study that involves human subjects

When it comes to copying or distributing someone else's work within the classroom, you may want to contact the library to seek permission. 

The Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) also has the right to grant permission and collect fees for photocopying rights for certain publications.

Copyright 101