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Copyright for students: Copyright for electronic materials

Copyright and the web

As stated elsewhere, all material created and existing in a tangible form is copyrighted.  Material on the web is copyright protected just as paper material is. 

  1. When writing research papers, do not copy directly from websites or other online content without properly citing where the material was posted.   If material is copied in it's entirety (photographs, artwork, charts, etc.), you may need to seek copyright permissions.
  2. When designing websites, blogs or other online content, it's equally important to think about copyright and understand what needs to be cited and what might need permissions from a copyright holder.  
    1. Downloading copyrighted digital material such as music, movies, photos, etc., without permission, may infringe on the rights of the copyright holder.
  3. ​Linking to a website carries no copyright issues since the materials is not being copied but just linked to.  This also provides attribution.

When in doubt, seek permission for the use and/or look to the fair use exceptions written into the law or link to the material.

Websites: Five Ways to Stay Out of Trouble  and Website Permissions  (Copyright and Fair Use/ Stanford University)

Film making, art and fair use

The video, "Fair Use is Your Friend", from the Center for Social Media, discusses how a fair use exception can, and they feel - should - be interpreted broadly.  The video suggests that it is up to the public to push fair use limits to their fullest rather than pull back and lose the opportunity of using materials for projects that could be considered fair use.

Another short film, "Freedom of Expression" also talks about copyright, the changing role it's playing in a digital age, and the responsibility we share to ensure the continued ability to use copyrighted materials.

Ultimately, it's up to each individual to decide how they wish to proceed when using copyrighted materials.  The law allows a certain amount of leeway but each person has a responsibility to understand copyright and fair use.

What happens if I didn't seek permissions and the copyright holder objects to my use?

It's always smart to have asked for permissions and/or to have considered your fair use arguments prior to using materials.  However, if a copyright  holder objects to your use of his/her work, you will have to remove the material from your website, blog, book, article, etc.