This guide is designed to help you determine whether and how you may use the work of others. This landing page covers essential information and visit the side navigation for special applications.
This guide is for informational purposes only and does not purport to provide legal advice.
Copyright and Fair Use
Copyright is a legal term describing ownership of control of the rights to the use and distribution of certain works of creative expression, including books, video, motion pictures, musical compositions and computer programs.
Fair use is an exception to copyright that permits the limited use of copyrighted material without having to first acquire permission from the copyright holder.
Because fair use is a guideline designed to be flexible to accommodate a variety of uses it is up to the user to determine whether their intended use is defensible.
There is a variety of checklists and resources to help you in making this determination.
This robust online tool walks you thoroughly through the steps of determining if your intended use may fall under fair use or if you need to seek copyright permissions. It was created by Michael Brewer & the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy.
Further Copyright and Fair Use Resources
If you wish to take a deep dive, many great resources are listed below.
produced by the dance heritage coalition, this document identifies five examples of best practices for fair use when working with dance-related materials.
How do I Obtain Permissions?
To request copyright permissions for use, you must contact the copyright owner or the owner’s authorized agent. You should logically begin your search for the copyright owner by directly contacting the author or publisher.
Keep in mind that copyright owners have wide discretion when responding to your request for permission, and may allow you to use the work on condition of paying a fee or deny your request altogether. For most common uses of materials for educational and research purposes, you often will find that copyright owners will be cooperative and will understand your needs.
Resources below will provide guidance for obtaining permissions.
The Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) acts as the agent on behalf of thousands of publishers and authors to grant permission. Includes permissions for textual works such as journals, books, and magazine.
If you wish to perform a musical work, you can contact the first entities listed below (Tresona, ASCAP, BMI or SESAC) to secure a license for your use. If you wish to synchronize music with visual images or distribute a musical composition that has been created by someone else, contact the Harry Fox agency for licensing. These entities are linked below.
SESAC represents songwriters and publishers and negotiates the rights for having their music performed in public. By securing a license from SESAC, for example, music users (i.e., television and radio stations, auditoriums, restaurants, hotels, theme parks, malls, etc.) can legally play any song in the SESAC repertory.