This is the "Home" page of the "Copyright" guide.
Alternate Page for Screenreader Users
Skip to Page Navigation
Skip to Page Content


Information on applying copyright law to teaching and learning activities at North Park University.
Last Updated: Jul 10, 2014 URL: Print Guide

Home Print Page

Copyright Basics

US Copyright Law

Copyright protects:

  • Books
  • Articles
  • Unpublished papers
  • Websites
  • Photographs
  • Music
  • Recordings
  • Tweets
  • Text messages
  • Information in a fixed form
  • And more... this is not an exhaustive list

Copyright owners have the right to:

  • Reproduce their work
  • Distribute their work
  • Display their work
  • Perform their work
  • Create derivative works based on their original

You can make a copy if:

*These concepts are explained elsewhere in this guide. 




Copyright Myths

Myth 1 - If the copy is for an educational purpose it is legal.

Making a copy for educational purposes increases the likelihood that it will be covered by Fair Use but the purpose of the copy is just one of the four Fair Use criteria and all four must be considered before deciding if a use is fair.  See the Fair Use tab for more information.

Myth 2 - If there is no copyright symbol © it is OK to copy it.

All "original works of authorship" that are "fixed in a tangible medium of expression" since 1978 are automatically covered by US copyright law and don't need to have a © symbol.  Texts created prior to 1978 may also be covered by copyright without the copyright symbol.  See the Public Domain tab for more information (for even more information, check out Columbia University's Copyright Quick Guide).

Myth 3 - If it is online I can copy it.

Copyright law applies just as much to online text, pictures, music, and video just as it does to expression in other mediums.  Just because it is easy to copy and distribute or display something doesn't mean it is legal.  However some sources of online information use a creative commons or a similar license to grant permission for making copies (usually with some strings attached).  See the Internet tab above for more information.

Myth 4 - If it is out of print I can copy it.

The fact that an item is no longer in print does not give you permission to copy it. If the item has never been published it is less likely that you can legally copy from it.  You must check the applicable Fair Use and Public Domain standards for all copies including items that are no longer being sold.


Copyright is Your Responsibility

As a faculty member you are responsible to ensure that you do not infringe against the copyright laws of the United States.  This page provides resources to help you understand what is and is not permitted.  Unfortunately copyright law is complex and the legality of a particular copy is often dependent upon the unique circumstances of that particular act.

In addition to the resources on this page, Matt Ostercamp in the Brandel Library is available to research copyright issues and give non-legal advice with regards to your specific copyright questions.  Please contact Matt at x5586 or by email

When in doubt about the legality of the use of intellectual property you are encouraged to consult a lawyer. Nothing in this guide should be understood to be legal advice.

Subject Guide

Profile Image
Matt Ostercamp
Contact Info
Office phone: 773-244-5586
Send Email

Not Legal Advice

When in doubt about the legality of the use of intellectual property you are encouraged to consult a lawyer.

Nothing in this guide should be understood to be legal advice.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook!

Check out the latest library news and information!


    Loading  Loading...