Copyright at USU

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Frequently Asked Questions



Q: Can I send a colleague a copy of my article?

A: You can always send a copy of the final post-peer review manuscript to colleagues. The final publisher PDF can usually be shared with colleagues through one-to-one emails. You most likely will NOT be able to send the final publisher PDF to colleagues using a list-serv, a personal website or any other forms of public broadcast media. Check your copyright release form.


Q: It is my research so I should be able to post my articles on my own website. Right?

A: Not necessarily. It depends on what rights you retained when you signed the copyright release form, and what rights you gave the publisher. (Click here for examples of how to modify your copyright release form to retain more rights.) Most publishers allow authors to post the final, post peer-review manuscript on a personal website, but NOT the publisher's final PDF. You can usually post the final publisher title and abstract on your personal website and then provide a link to the publisher's website to your article. Check your copyright release form for each article that you want to post. Sometimes it will require you to use special wording to accompany the title and abstract.


Q: If my personal website is password protected, can I post the publisher PDF?

A: Probably. Read the copyright release form carefully, and if it is unclear ask the publisher for clarification. Continue to ask for clarification if the response is unclear or different from what you expected.


Q: I cannot locate my copyright release form. How do I find out what a publisher allows and does not allow?

A: Contacting the publisher directly.

Alternatively, go to the publisher's website to see what their current copyright release form states. Most publishers provide a link to this form from their instructions to authors website. Your librarian may be able to assist.

A quick but not necessarily 100% sure way to find out is to locate your journal in the SherpaRoMEO database. RoMEO is a searchable database of publisher policies on the self- archiving of journal articles on the web and in Open Access repositories. It contains publishers' general policies on self-archiving of journal and conference articles. Each entry provides a summary of the publisher's policy, including what version of an article can be deposited, where it can be deposited, and any conditions that are attached to that deposit. Click here to enter the RoMEO database.

Q: I want to use low-resolution images from books to enhance a newsletter distributed by my center to members both on and off campus. Do I need permission to use these images?

A: You probably do, especially if the images have no other purpose than making the publication look “pretty.”

Q: The publisher of the textbook I use for one of my classes has provided several test questions that I want to use on my Blackboard site. I would also like to use a few of these questions on my personal website where I discuss test questions (structure and educational value) with colleagues. Can I do that?

A: It is OK to use the publishers’ test questions on your password protected Blackboard site. It is however very problematic about posting these same questions on a publicly available website without the publisher’s permission – even if the purpose is for critique and review.

Q: I want to show a movie, either “Apollo 13” or “2001: A Space Odyssey,” to our student club during our special research week. I see that the library has the “2001: A Space Odyssey” movie but not the “Apollo 13” movie. Can I show the movie the library has? And can I get the library to purchase a copy of Apollo 13?

A: As the library did not purchase the performance rights when it acquired “2001: A Space Odyssey,” you will not be able to show the movies without purchasing the performance rights – even if admission is free. Either contact the movie producer to obtain permission, or rent the movie from a company that specialize in renting movies with performance rights included. If you wanted to show the movie in the classroom AND for an educational purpose, you would use the library copy without obtaining additional performance rights. The library generally does not purchase DVDs with the performance rights.

Q: I want my class to see this DVD that I have and I would like to convert it to streaming video sot the students can access through Blackboard. Can I do that?

A: Unless there is language to the contrary that came with the DVD, it is not legal to make a complete copy. With regard to Blackboard (or Instructure’s Canvas) it is also not legal to stream the entire video asynchronously from within that system. Title 17 of the U.S. Code makes exceptions for using parts of a media item in an asynchronous environment, but not the entire work. You can, however, show the entire movie IN the classroom. Please note that the law specifies that in order to use DVDs in educational settings, the DVD must have been lawfully obtained.