Using Copyrighted Works

Your Responsibilities

Copyright is handled differently depending on where you are using the work.

When using (e.g. copying, modifying) copyright-protected works, it is your responsibility to ensure that you are not violating copyright law.

Unless stated otherwise, all works you come across, whether in print or online, are copyrighted.

Legally Obtaining Copyrighted Works

When using copyrighted works, it is important that you have legally obtained that work.

Examples of legally obtained works:

  • a book, article, or other type of resource
  • a book, article, or other type of resource borrowed from another library through interlibrary loan.
  • an image/video/song that was uploaded by the current copyright holder to a publicly available website.
  • an online document that is housed on a site hosted by the original copyright holder or at the approval of the copyright holder.

Examples of works that may not be legally obtained:

  • a book, article, or other type of resource from another institution where their licenses do not permit your use (e.g. a personal membership to an association or organization, you work at another company/institution and have access to their subscription materials as an employee).
  • an image/video/song uploaded by an unknown party and has no affiliation with the copyright holder.
  • an online work that provides no contextual information on who holds the copyright of that material.
  • any work that has a digital lock that you would need to break in order to make a copy.
  • works where the copyright statement or terms of use section specifically prevents your particular use of the work.

Best Practices

Best practices for the use of copyrighted works include:

  • Only use works if you have the copyright holder's permission, the works are in the public domain, or the works are "short" excerpts"
  • Credit the author and source of all works
  • Only include works that are reasonably necessary for the purpose of your use.

Citing and Attributing Works

It is always recommended to follow the appropriate citation style rules for your discipline to cite any works you use.

If you are using openly licensed works (e.g. public domain, creative commons), always attribute in the format the creator has indicated.


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