The purpose of this guide is to provide an overview of copyright and provide resources to any member of the Creighton community with questions about copyright.
Creighton University Libraries provide assistance with copyright in the following areas:
Please note that the Creighton University Libraries cannot provide legal advice. Questions outside this scope or otherwise requiring legal advice are referred to the General Council.
Copyright law applies to nearly all creative and intellectual works
Copyright law protects a wide and diverse array of materials. Books, journals, photographs, works of visual art and sculpture, music, sound recordings, computer programs, websites, film, architectural drawings, choreography and many other materials are within the reach of copyright law. If you can see it, read it, hear it, or watch it, it likely is captured by copyright.
The basic term of protection for works created today is for the life of the author, plus seventy years. In the case of "works made for hire", copyright lasts for the lesser of either 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation of the work. The duration rules for works created before 1978 are altogether different, and foreign works often receive distinctive treatment. More detailed information can be found at the United States Copyright Office.
Works are protected automatically, without copyright notice or registration
Copyright protectable works receive instant and automatic copyright protection at the time that they are created. U.S. law today does not require placing a notice of copyright on the work or registering the work with the U.S. Copyright Office. The law provides some important benefits if you do use the notice or register the work, but you are the copyright owner even without these formalities.
Copyright law provides for the principle, commonly called "fair use" that the reproduction of copyright works for certain limited, educational purposes, does not constitute copyright infringement. The Copyright Act establishes a four-factor test, the "fair use test," to use to determine whether a use of a copyrighted work is fair use that does not require the permission of the copyright owner. The fair use test is highly fact specific, and much can turn on seemingly insignificant variations on the proposed use.
To determine whether a proposed use is a fair use, you must consider the following four factors:
To establish the strongest basis for fair use, consider using a Fair Use Checklist to help evaluate the nature of your use.
While faculty are encouraged to use digital technology in innovative ways, care must be taken when using the Internet to distribute copyrighted materials to students for educational purposes. Fair use does not protect the act of widespread distribution of materials via publicly accessible Web sites.
The University provides the following methods for securely distributing work to students for class use. The University strongly encourages faculty to use these resources.