Copyright Library Guide
Copyright is a type of intellectual property that gives its owner the exclusive right to make copies of a creative work. Learn more about the basics of copyright, how it impacts your research publications, and find additional resources in this library guide
The MLML/MBARI Research Library is here to help you navigate copyright issues!
Please contact librarian Katie Lage (firstname.lastname@example.org) for assistance with any of the following:
- Questions about how copyright affects course reserve readings
- Help negotiating with the publishers of your articles to retain explicit ownership of your content
- Assistance finding publishing opportunities that will facilitate the widest dissemination of your work to help you fulfill your personal and professional goals as a scholar
Why follow copyright?
- It’s the law
- It’s the right thing to do
- It gives you rights as well as obligations
What is covered by copyright
In the beginning, copyright law was intended to cover only books. During the 19th century, the law was expanded to include maps, charts, engravings, prints, musical compositions, dramatic works, photographs, paintings, drawings, and sculptures. Motion pictures, computer programs, sound recordings, dance, and architectural works became protected by copyright during the 20th century.
Copyright protections fall under Title 17 of the United States Code and covers “original works of authorship.”
So what makes a work original?
- Fixity: not the idea but the fixed expression or the manifestation of the idea
- Minimal creativity
What is NOT covered by copyright
- Works for which the copyright has expired
- Works that federal government employees produced within the scope of their employment
- Works clearly and explicitly donated to the public domain
- Works that have not been fixed in a tangible form of expression (for example, choreographic works that have not been notated or recorded, or spontaneous speeches or performances that have not been written or recorded)
- Titles, names, short phrases, and slogans; familiar symbols or designs; mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or coloring; mere listings of ingredients or contents
- Ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts, principles, discoveries, or devices, as distinguished from a description, explanation, or illustration
- Works consisting entirely of information that is common property and contains no original authorship (for example, standard calendars, height and weight charts, tape measures and rulers, and lists or tables taken from public documents or other common sources)
Information on copyright considerations during COVID-19 from Kyle K. Courtney's Copyright Blog:
Fair Use refers to the use of copyrighted content without the expressed permission of the copyright holder under specific circumstances. Whether the use of copyrighted content is considered Fair Use is determined on a case by case basis.
Four factors are used to analyze whether Fair Use applies. All four factors should be weighed simultaneously when evaluating a fair use case.
- The purpose and character of use, including whether the use is for commercial or noncommercial purposes
- The nature of the copyrighted work (e.g. factual works are more likely to fall under fair use than highly artistic or creative works)
- The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
- The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work
Two resources to help you evaluate your Fair Use use case:
Articles received through Interlibrary Loan (ILL) from another library are licensed for single use only. This means they cannot legally be duplicated or posted online.
SJSU & CSU Resources
- SJSU Copyright Quick Start Guide
- CSU Chancellor’s Office: Intellectual Property, Fair Use, and the Unbundling of Ownership Rights
Copyright Related Organizations