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Copyright on the Internet


This section addresses the appropriate uses of material you find on the Internet.

Because you are able to view, download, or print text and graphics does not mean that the material is unprotected. Assume that copyright protects almost all works on the Internet. Nor does it mean that you are free to disseminate that work to others either electronically or in hard copy. When in doubt, ask the owner of the copyright for permission. Keep a copy of your request for permission and the permission received.

When building your own website, include a copyright notice in a prominent location and consider registering your work with the U.S. Copyright Office if your site content and design is unique.

You may:

  •  download information from the Web for your personal use if it falls within the Fair Use Doctrine. Downloading information is considered to be the same as making a copy.
  • generally download or print information from a commercial database if it is for your personal use.
  • place your original text, graphics, audio, or video on your web page.
  • provide links on your web page to other sites.
  • use frames only if you make clear when someone leaves your web page. Otherwise, you may be presenting other's work as your own.

You should:

  • find out if the author of a work (e.g., text, video, audio, or graphic) provides information on how to use his or her work. If explicit guidelines exist, be sure to follow them.
  • always credit the sources of your information. Even though proper attribution does not make a use  attribution is important for intellectual honesty.
  • remember that fair use generally favors nonfiction over fiction and other creative works.
  • realize the use of scientific or other fact-based works is more likely to lean in favor of fair use than would the use of excerpts from artistic or creative works.
  • be aware that the shorter the excerpt the more likely it will be fair use.
  • ensure that you use only the amount that serves specific educational goals.

You should not:

  • download information from the Internet or Web and pass electronic or hard copies to others without permission unless the copyright has expired.
  • use without permission any images, motion media, or music created by others digitally or in hardcopy unless the copyright has expired.
  • use logos or trademarks on a web page without permission. Instead, use words and point to the appropriate URL.
  • copy an entire list to your web page- it probably is a copyright violation because such lists may be copyrightable under a compilation copyright.