Using Other People’s Copyrighted Materials

The default is to seek permission to use others’ copyrighted works. (If a work is not protected by copyright, it can be used by anyone without permission.) If you infringe on someone else’s copyrighted materials, you and the University may be liable in a lawsuit. To avoid infringing, you must first determine if your intended use is within copyright’s fair use guidelines. If not within fair use or one of the other exceptions to the permission requirement, you must seek permission. In case questions about your use of others’ materials come up later, it’s a good idea to keep records including the permission letters.

  1. Who is responsible for determining if it’s fair use?
  2. Where can I get help in determining if it’s fair use?
  3. Do I need to ask permission if it’s from UWEX CE?
  4. How do I request permission to use copyrighted materials?
  5. What if I can’t get permission or it’s too expensive?
  6. If I got permission once, do I need to ask again if I want to use it again or convert it to a different format?
  7. What records do I need to keep and for how long?
  8. If a copyright owner says I’ve infringed, what do I do?
  9. What notice of copyright must be given to students when using copyrighted materials?
  10. Copyright Infringement vs. Plagiarism—What’s the difference?

 

1. Who is responsible for determining if it’s fair use?

The individual who wants to use it is responsible. If it’s a joint project, the lead individual is ultimately responsible. Since determination of fair use can vary by interpretation, filling out a checklist of fair use can help you systematically decide if your intended use is fair use. It will also show you made a good faith effort to comply with copyright law in case questions arise later about your interpretation of fair use.

 

2. Where can I get help in determining if it’s fair use?

Fill out the Checklist for Determining Fair Use.

The Copyright Advisory Office of Columbia University has some great scenarios to help you determine if an item is fair use. The University of Texas System’s “Four Factor Test” goes into detail on how to interpret the four factors that fair use is based on. For more in-depth guidance, see the U.S. Copyright Office’s Circular 21,Reproductions of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians, (24-page Adobe Acrobat file)

 

3. Do I need to ask permission if it’s from UWEX CE?

Yes. If you’re a UWEX employee and want to use or adapt CE materials, check with the author first. If the author is no longer with UWEX CE, contact your program leader or Pamela DeVore, UWEX-CE’s Publishing Operations Manager, (608) 263-2770.

 

4. How do I request permission to use copyrighted materials?

sample letter is available. If you get verbal permission, follow it up with written permission for your files. You can contact Steenbock Library asksteenbock@library.wisc.edu for help in getting publisher addresses or contact information.

 

5. If I got permission once, do I need to ask if I want to use it again or convert it to a different format?

Yes. Since copyright owners usually give permission for a specific amount of time or a specific purpose, you need to request permission again if your next future use was not covered in your original permission request. However, it may be possible to negotiate an agreement that provides permission over an extended period of time.

 

6. What if I can’t get permission or it’s too expensive?

For alternative strategies, see the IUPUI Copyright Management Center. You can also request students purchase materials or obtain their own full text of articles from their public library or from Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction licensed BadgerLink databases available to all Wisconsin residents.

 

7. What records do I need to keep and for how long?

It is recommended, but not required, that you keep detailed records for as long as you are using the copyrighted material. Why? Records are useful in case questions arise later about your interpretation of fair use; to consult for the length and terms of permission granted; or if you want contact information to request to use the materials again. See the Columbia Copyright Advisory Office’s suggestions and reasons why.

 

8. If a copyright owner says I’ve infringed, what do I do?

Gather your records on how you determined your use was fair use or your permission granted correspondence, and then contact your program leader and Pamela DeVore pam.devore@ces.uwex.edu, UWEX-CE Publishing’s Manager, (608) 263-2770 for further guidance.

 

9. What notice of copyright must be given to students when using copyrighted materials?

It is important to let students know that materials used are copyright protected. This can be a brief statement to students alerting them that materials are copyrighted; it should be included on materials distributed or as electronic links to more copyright information.

 

10. Copyright Infringement vs. Plagiarism—What’s the difference?

Copyright infringement is using someone else’s work beyond fair use without permission.  See the “CE Basics of Copyright”for details.

Plagiarism is passing someone else’s work or ideas as your own. Even if you cite their work, if you use a substantial amount of it without permission, you can be plagiarizing.

Plagiarism can result in a violation of personnel rules.  See II-314 MISCONDUCT IN SCHOLARLY RESEARCH PROCEDURES FOR DEALING WITH MISCONDUCT IN SCHOLARLY RESEARCH  January 15, 1991

For more information on plagiarism and copyright infringement:
Anderson, Mary P. (editor-in-chief). 2006. Plagiarism, Copyright Violation, and Dual Publication: Are you guilty? Ground Water 44(5): 623–623.

Dames, K. Matthew. “Understanding Plagiarism and How It Differs from Copyright Infringement.”  Computers in Libraries, June 2007. 27(6): 24-27

Plagiarism.org. What is Plagiarism, types of plagiarism, how to avoid plagiarizing, printable handouts, etc.

 

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