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Copyright Guide: For Faculty/Staff

General Information on U.S. Copyright Law for Staff and Students

Who Owns Your Instructional Materials?

Who owns copyright to the materials you create for instructional purposes? The UW System policy on "Copyrightable Instructional Materials Ownership, Use, and Control" answers that question. Sample contracts and sample work-for-hire agreements are included at the end of the policy page.

Sample Copyright Notice

Here is a sample of language to include with copyrighted material:

NOTICE: The materials provided in this course (or Canvas module) may be protected by copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). You may print a copy of course materials for your personal study, reading, or research. Reproducing, distributing, modifying and/or making derivative works based on the materials posted here for any other purposes may be an infringement of the owner's copyright.

Copy Rights for Faculty

The following resource is for faculty who want to know how their work is protected via copyright.

Copyright and Intellectual Property Ownership

Murphy Library is dedicated to helping you make good decisions regarding the use of your work and the work of others. Please feel free to contact us at any time to assist you with questions regarding instructional materials, scholarly publishing and communications, journal licensing, and other issues related to copyright.

We hope you will find the information on Fair Use helpful. Keep in mind that the Fair Use doctrine is flexible, and we can provide resources regarding case law that will indicate different ways these laws have been interpreted in court. Because the Georgia State case is the first one to specifically address fair use in a non-profit educational setting, we eagerly await further developments. The "Further Information" resources listed below will also provide current information.

Please also consider the resources we provide addressing Open Access

Murphy Library, under the leadership of David Mindel, the digital collections and university repository librarian, is in the process of developing an institutional repository, and we hope faculty and staff will contribute their works to the repository.

Open Access and Creative Commons

The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) defines open access as "the dissemination of scientific and scholarly research literature online, free of charge, and free of unnecessary licensing restrictions." This web site offers information on open access initiatives, resources to track trends in journal pricing, and author resources, including the Author Addendum for use with your own publishing agreements.

The SPARC web site and many other resources in this guide are shared through Creative Commons licenses. Creative Commons licenses allow you to share your work while retaining a selected level of control over your work, depending on which of the six licenses you choose. Here is an example of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license, which is the license the Creative Commons web site uses. The best way to indicate use of a work licensed under Creative Commons is to provide a link directly to the license, as show in the example.

Further Information

If you are interested in reading further about copyright law, open access, and other issues surrounding resource sharing and scholarly communications, here are a few places to begin.

Association of Research Libraries "Copyright and Intellectual Property Policies" web site:

  • Contains extensive information and analysis on copyright and IP law, including the newly published "Code for Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries."

Washington College of Law at American University "Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property" web site:

  • Contains information from active intellectual property scholars and attorneys regarding current events that impact copyright law.

Center for Media and Social Impact at American University "Fair Use" web site:

  • Offers teaching materials for media literacy education and provides codes of best practices and guidance on fair use for poetry, media studies, documentary films, online video, and other categories.

Copyright Information From Other Libraries

Visit these sites to find further information on copyright and intellectual property management.

Movies on Campus

It is within Fair Use to show any movie in your class, provided it is in your classroom setting and limited to just the members of your class. If you want to have others in your department or on campus to be able to watch it, you will need to get a public performance license.

Jacob Hart at University Centers can help you determine the availability and get permission if you need it. To get assistance, please fill out the online form.