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Copyright Guidelines

For guidelines about copyright, fair use, and links to further resources.

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Copyright Duration

For works created on or after January 1, 1978, copyright privileges last for the life of the author plus 70 years for individuals. For works created by companies or other organizations copyright privileges last for 120 years after creation or 95 years after publication – whichever is shorter.  For more detailed information about the duration of copyright, see the link below.


Here are examples of ways to comply with copyright law when using the works of others in a higher education setting:

  • Determine whether the work is protected by copyright.  If the work has passed into the public domain, no license or permission to use the work is needed.
  • Evaluate whether your intended use qualifies as a "fair use" of the work.  See the Fair Use tab for more information.
  • Use works prepared by an officer or employee of the US government as part of that person's official duties.  These works are not entitled to domestic copyright protection under US copyright law.  This exception does not apply to works of state or local governments.
  • Use works made available for free but with specific terms of use under a creative commons license.  See for more information.
  • Have your students pay for a copy of the book containing the work you want the students to read.  
  • Obtain permission from the copyright holder.  It is important to plan ahead because obtaining permission may take time and require fees or royalties.


*This guide has been adapted, with permission, from a Copyright LibGuide at Clemson University.