Library Research Guide
This page will assist you in understanding how to legally and ethically find and reuse others' content in your academic work as well as in theses, dissertations, and Master's reports (TDRs). Such content could include text, images, figures, graphs, sound clips, and video recordings.
The content and resources provided here apply to anyone reusing content in academic work in the U.S. and are not specific to K-State. However, K-State students should be aware that they must comply with U.S. copyright law and the K-State Honor Pledge.
Follow the steps below in chronological order to know how to legally reuse others' works in your academic work and TDRs.
Public domain content is free to use, because the copyright term has either expired or the work never had copyright protection. Therefore, there is no need to proceed to the next steps if you are using a work in the public domain.
The following categories of works are not subject to copyright protection in the United States:
Three conditions must be met for works to qualify for copyright protection in the U.S.:
Raw data, tables, graphs, and charts often do not qualify copyright protection in the United States, because they merely represent data or facts. However, some types of data can qualify for copyright protection, such as photos taken in the field by an anthropologist. Photos generally do have at least a minimal level of creativity and originality.
For the majority of data and data representations, an individual usually enters data into a software program. The individual can then generate a graph or some other data visualization with the same program or another program. Although this may require technical skill, it does not mean that someone created something original (i.e., from their own imagination or mind). Rather, facts and data are discovered and then recorded. A graph, table, chart, or visual representation of a molecule is merely a depiction of data and facts.
A unique data visualization can potentially have copyright protection if it does have considerable creativity and originality. Infographics are a good example of this. You can read the "Copyrightability of Tables, Graphs, and Charts" for more information (linked in the list below).
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.
The caption below this image is an example of a CCL image with in-text citation/attribution.
Academics frequently rely on fair use when using others' copyrighted material in their scholarly works. Even when they paraphrase and reference another's work, they are technically relying on fair use. Linked below are resources to help you when relying on fair use.
Consider the four factors of fair use in a balanced and holistic manner when you make a fair use evaluation. Fair use is considered the "golden rule" of U.S. copyright law, so consider how your intended use may affect the copyright holder's originally intended use.
In addition, consider whether you can answer "yes" to these three questions:
If you answered "yes" to these three questions, you have a stronger argument for being in favor of fair use.