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Digital Dissertations and Theses
Digital dissertations and theses, as well as ePorftolios, can have special copyright concerns, because they are often freely accessible on the internet. Carefully review the requirements of the BGSU Graduate College and the OhioLINK ETD, as well as the copyright restrictions on any images before digitally publishing your dissertation.
What is Copyright?
United States copyright law is contained within Title 17 of the United States Code. Copyright protection applies to "original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression" (recorded, saved to a hard drive, written down, etc.). The law specifies eight protected categories:
- literary works;
- musical works, including any accompanying words;
- dramatic works, including any accompanying music;
- pantomimes and choreographic works;
- pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
- motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
- sound recordings; and
- architectural works.
The law also grants exclusive rights to copyright holders (Section 106). You've likely heard these referred to as a bundle of rights. They include the rights to:
- reproduce the work;
- prepare derivative works;
- distribute copies of the work;
- perform the copyrighted work publicly;
- display the copyrighted work publicly; and
- perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.
Written by the United States Copyright Office, Copyright Basics provides background information on copyright law, the scope and duration of its protections, and registration procedures for authors.
While copyright holders have exclusive rights to determine how their works are reproduced, distributed, displayed, and performed, there are exceptions to those rights in the law. One major exception is the doctrine of fair use (Section 107).
Individuals who'd like to use a copyrighted work for "purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research" can use the following four factors to determine if their proposed use favors fair use or warrants permission from the copyright holder:
- The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
- the nature of the copyrighted work;
- the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
- the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
Can I Use This?
University of Minnesota Libraries' Can I Use This? provides a practical overview of copyright basics, using copyrighted materials in your research and teaching, and Creative Commons licenses.
Fair Use Checklist
Columbia University Libraries' Fair Use Checklist lists common circumstances--both those that favor and oppose fair use--for each of the four factors to help you make your fair use determination.
Fair Use Myths & Facts
Released as part of Fair Use Week
, the Association of Research Libraries' Fair Use Myths & Facts
is an infographic that debunks 10 common misconceptions about fair use.
Know Your Copyrights [PDF]
Created by the Association of Research Libraries, Know Your Copyrights provides tips for some common copyright-related scenarios higher education faculty encounter in their teaching.
Asking for Permission
Columbia University Libraries' Asking for Permission provides step-by-step instructions and model permission letters for individuals who feel their use of a work doesn't fall under one of the law's exceptions and requires permission from the copyright holder.
As with any work of intellectual property, you should identify your sources for images. Consult your preferred citation style manual (APA, MLA, etc.) for examples and as a guide for your citation.
A Beginner's Guide to Using Copyrighted Images
The Photography Ethics Centre is dedicated to raising awareness about ethics and promoting ethical literacy across the photography industry. We do this through a variety of programs, including online training, guest speaking, and interactive workshops.
Copyright in Higher Education Elements Resources
The goal of CHEER is to create a collaborative online exchange for engaging resources that can be utilized to increase awareness and education on these issues at any institution.
Digital Image Rights Computator
The Digital Image Rights Computator (DIRC) program is intended to assist
the user in assessing the intellectual property status of a specific image documenting a work of art, a designed object, or a portion of the built environment. Understanding the presence or absence of rights in the
various aspects of a given image will allow the user to make informed
decisions regarding the intended educational uses of that image.
Which Images Can Be Copyrighted?
From the American Society of Media Photographers.