The information on this site should NOT be considered legal advice. The author is a librarian, not a lawyer, and this LibGuide is intended as just that: a guide. If you are unsure of whether or not something is legal, please talk to an attorney.
If you are concerned about an issue related to course content on Moodle or ERes at Kenyon, please contact one of the reference librarians. We have resources to help you determine if your use is fair or if we need to get permission.
Read more information and submit a form request here on the Course Readings Page.
Things you might create while you're at Kenyon:
...the list could go on forever. We are all, especially in the digital age, content creators. It is important to understand how to share our work, whether it be on the web or through traditional print publications.
If you are pursuing traditional print publication for your work, it is important to understand the agreement that you sign with the publisher. Columbia University's Copyright Advisory Office puts it this way:
"Your scholarly work is central to your career and to the advancement of knowledge in your field. Give your project the respect it deserves by carefully examining and negotiating the proposed agreement from your publisher. The terms of your agreement with the publisher will determine whether researchers may access your publication for study and even whether you may use your own work in future teaching and research."
As the author, you do have the right to negotiate and maintain rights to your work, and there are tools to help you do so. The Columbia University site above contains lots of information about publication agreements (among other things). Creative Commons, which we discuss in more detail below, has also created a tool to help authors generate addendums to their agreements which are favorable to access. See the Tools box for more.
Just as with print publications, it's important to understand what you're agreeing to when you publish work online. In some cases, this may be as straightforward as an agreement you sign with a publisher, just as with print. In other cases, though, the terms of your publication may not be so obvious.
You know all those "Yes I agree" check boxes you breeze through when you create a new online account, let's say, on Twitter? Frequently, those govern the use of your work by the entity which owns the website. For example, who owns your tweets? What happens when the Library of Congress decides to archive all tweets?
The answer, in this case, is in the Twitter Terms of Service:
You retain your rights to any Content you submit, post or display on or through the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed).
The answer is, you own your tweets. But, by posting them, you've granted Twitter a license to do with them what they will, for no fee. The Terms of Service goes on to explain that Twitter can also make your content available to companies or other organizations.
It's important to understand what you're signing...or clicking "I Agree" to, as you are often granting rights to your work.
Another mechanism for granting rights online is Creative Commons Licensing. This organization was created so that content creators could govern how their work can be used in both a human-readable and machine-readable way. It allows for sharing of work that does not require permission even when a use would be covered by copyright law. For example, the content in this site is licensed this way:
Kenyon College Copyright LibGuide by Kenyon College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.
This means that anyone can use the work contained here, as long as they attribute it to Kenyon College and don't use it for commercial purposes. Both Google and Yahoo allow for searching for this type of work and sites like Flickr have this type of licensing built in. Which means that not only can you search for works that can be incorporated into your own, others can search and use your work.
You might be thinking, "but what if something isn't licensed Creative Commons, can I use it in my work then?" And the answer is yes, as long as you meet certain conditions. The four factors of fair use can be used to determine if how you want to use a work is fair. The downside, of course, is that analyzing the four factors can be complicated.
Fortunately, lots of expert-type folks have been creating tools and best practice documents to help people figure out what's fair and what's not. For example, the Center for Social Media has created a Code of Best Practices for Fair Use in Online Video, which helps video creators understand how to employ fair use of materials in their work.
Another example is the "Fair Use Checklist", many of which have been designed by libraries to help those wanting to share content, but are also useful in determining if a use is fair. Columbia University publishes a great resource of this type - licensed under Creative Commons! There are others listed above as well. These checklists can be helpful tools in using copyrighted content.
This LibGuide is a work in progress. Have suggestions? See something you don't understand? Please contact LBIS.