Author/Creator Rights and User Rights

This guide is brought to you by the Office of Scholarly Communications, where our goal is to help you reach yours.

Research, Scholarship, Creative Endeavors

Do you use quotations, images, maps, graphs, video excerpts, audio clips, or other material from a work by another author/creator?   If so, you need to determine what restrictions apply.  Here are a few questions to guide you:

            Is the work containing this material in the public domain?  If you answer "yes," copyright restrictions do not apply, and you do not need permission to use material from this work. 

            Did the author/creator apply a Creative Commons (CC) license (or another open license) to the work?  If you answer "yes,"  you do not need permission to use material from this work, but you should adhere to the license's terms.  An explanation of the CC licenses can be found on Creative Commons.

            Is the work under copyright? Do the Fair Use provisions of U.S. copyright law apply? When you use material from a work currently under copyright, you may be eligible for the Fair Use exemption, which allows use of a work for  criticism, scholarship, research, and teaching.  The “Fair Use Checklist,” found on the Columbia University Libraries' website, can help you to determine whether or not if your use of the work counts as Fair Use.  If it does, you do not need to seek permission from the copyright owner.

            If you use copyrighted sources extensively, you might want to consult Stanford University Libraries' online guide or Columbia University Libraries' online guide. The College Art Association, the American Musicological Society, and many other professional societies also publish guidelines regarding fair use.  

            Fair Use does not apply. If the Fair Use provision does not apply, you need to seek permission from the individual or entity which owns the copyright to the work.

NOTE:  Regardless of the laws or licenses governing the work's use, you need to cite it properly. 


For a general overview, visit the University of Arkansas Libraries' research guide Copyright and Fair Use: The Basics.

Fair Use Provisions for Teaching

U.S. copyright law contains broad provisions permitting the use of copyrighted material in teaching.  Your subject librarian can help you determine if these provisions apply to your situation. 

For an overview of the legislation governing the use of copyrighted material in online classes, see the research guide Copyrighted Materials in Online Classes.  

For the University of Arkansas policy, Copyright and Distance Learning. [Board of Trustees Policy 210.2.]

For an overview of the relevant legislation and strategies for using copyrighted material legally, see Kenneth D. Crews, Copyright Law for Librarians and Educators: Creative Strategies and Practical Solutions, 3rd ed. (Chicago: American Library Association, 2012).

Open Education Resources

Instructors and students can use Open Education Resources (OER) without permission and without charge.  For more information about OER and how you might use it in your own classes, see the guide Open Education.