Find out how you can legally and ethically use copyrighted and library content in your academic research, instruction, essays & writings, and creative projects. Legal disclaimer: this copyright guide is meant for informational & educational purposes only.
Content You Can Share Publicly Online or in a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC)
This page will provide you with guidelines to legally and ethically reuse others' content in an open online setting, such as a blog or a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC).
The content on this page is based on the Framework for Analyzing any U.S. Copyright Problem, which has been modified and adapted specifically for the reuse of content in openonline settings and in MOOCs.
This framework is designed to work through any copyright question faced by any individual when it comes to reusing others' content in the United States. Links to resources and tools provided.
1. When in doubt, link it out!
If possible, provide a link to the resource rather than include a copy of the resource in your open online setting. That way, you don’t have to worry about copyright concerns, because you aren’t reproducing the content.
2. Find content in the public domain
In other words, the copyright term has expired or the work never had copyright protection.
Here is an image that is in the public domain.
Moon panorama, series of photos taken by NASA astronaut Harrison Schmitt, later combined to create a panorama, 1972
All works created by U.S. government employees when acting in their direct job responsibilities are in the public domain.
Find content in the public domain through these many sources used by the Public Domain Review.
3. Use Creative Commons Licensed (CCL) content
Find content with Creative CommonsLicensing(CCL). CCL enables authors to establish a set of licenses or permissions that determine how others can use their work. Creative Commons (CC) doesn't replace copyright, but it does make it easier to determine how someone can use a particular work.
For example, all the licenses require attribution, which is as simple as including an in-text citation and/or attribution to the source in a reference list. See the caption below this image for an example of an in-text citation/attribution.
The fair use webpage of K-State's copyright website. Includes information about what is considered a legal copy of a resource, the four factors of fair use, trademarks and fair use, and resources and tools.
Use the fair use evaluator tool in order to better understand the four factors of fair use and make your own evaluation of your use of a copyrighted work. The tool generates an optional PDF of the evaluation that can act as documentation for your records.
5. Request permission
Be sure to specify that the content will be used in an open online context and available to anyone worldwide with an Internet connection. If it is going to be available in a MOOC, explain the educational nature of the use.
Be sure to archive all permission letters, even if it's just an email granting you permission.
The permissions webpage of K-State's copyright website.
Content You Cannot Share Publicly Online or in a MOOC
Content licensed by the library for use by the university are otherwise restricted to authorized users and should never be publicly shared online.
Copyrighted content you found on a website that does not allow you to legally download their content or for which you have not obtained permission from the rights holder(s).
Legally obtained copyrighted content for which you do not have a good fair use argument or for which you have not received permission to use it.