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Scholarly Communication: Copyright

What is scholarly communication? This guide serves as an introduction to open access publishing as well as a guide to facilitate scholarly communication and collaboration.

Copyright & Open Access: where they intersect

Really Quick Cheat Sheet

See this Michael Brewer's digital slider at for a quick glance at the probable copyright status of a published (or non-published) piece of work you would like to investigate using.


Attribution 101

According to Creative Commons guidelines. 

Copyright Transfer

Browse some typical publisher copyright transfer agreements.  For example, look at this CTA from Elsevier. (downloadable pdf)

As an author, look for the following before signing a CTA:

  • does the publisher gain exclusive or non-exclusive right to your work?
  • is there a provision for depositing your work into an OA repository? 
  • only after a certain time period?
  • which form of your final work (if any) may you retain for publishing elsewhere?
    • the final, edited, peer-reviewed copy?
    • the final (un-edited) peer-reviewed copy?
  • in either case, do you retain rights to any of your charts, data and tables, etc?

These items are negotiable!

Fair Use and Digital Technology

See the Conference on Fair Use (CONFU) guidelines proposed in 1998 to address new issues encountered in the digital world when trying to navigate and make "fair use" decisions regarding copyright. (opens a PDF file)

Fair Use and Film

See Documentary Filmmakers' Statement for best practices on applying fair use in that field.

4 Quick Questions About Fair Use . . .

. . .  will help you determine whether it's OK to use a piece of copyrighted work:

PURPOSE of the use:  do you intend to use the work primarily to teach, research, parody, critique or report?

NATURE of the work used:  is it of an educational or news nature?  (rather than someone's creative work)

AMOUNT used:  do you intend to use only a small, non-core, insignificant portion of the work?

EFFECT of the use:  will your use affect the work's market or potential commercial viability (if any)?  Is your dissemination of the work minor in scope?  Is the licensing or permission to use unduly burdensome or is it simple to obtain?  Did you try to get permission?  If permission is not obtained or is not clear, did you attribute credit?

[NOTE: this is only a rough guide]

adapted from Checklist for Fair Use (Copyright Management Center, IUPUI (2003))

Copyright in Scholarship

For more in-depth reading about open access and copyright issues, see:

Copyright and Intellectual Property for Faculty, Staff and Students

interactive slideshow

For the best experience please download the slideshow to your own PowerPoint program and view it there. (press Save)

Other Libguides

For more information on copyright and intellectual property rights please visit:

Copyright Clearance

Visit the Copyright Clearance Center if you have permissions questions pertaining to probable copyrighted works you would like to use.

Copyright on Campus (produced by the Copyright Clearance Center)


The TEACH Act was enacted in 2002 primarily to balance the rights of copyright holders with the new and emerging needs of learners and educators.

In short, it provided more latitude for educators in an online environment to provide copyrighted educational materials, provided certain criteria are met:

  • educational institution must be accredited, non-profit
  • use must be part of mediated instruction
  • use must be limited to specific number of students in specific class
  • use must be for live or asynchronous class sessions


  • use cannot include textbooks or materials typically purchased by students, or works developed specifically for online use
  • institution must have developed copyright policies and publicized them to students and include notice of copyright on online materials
  • institution must implement technological measures beyond simple password control to ensure compliance with copyright policies

The provisions of the TEACH Act do not extend to course reserves, coursepacks, document delivery, interlibrary loan materials or licensed textbooks, and generally do not extend to conversion of materials from analog to digital except under strictly authorized uses or under extraordinary circumstances.

Download a more detailed 2-page summary of the TEACH Act from the Copyright Clearance Center.