Copyright at OHSU

Guide to copyright basics, exemptions and use in teaching, scholarship and for students

Overview

It is often possible for students to use works created by others under fair use, but not all uses may be permissible, even if the purpose of the use is educational. This section will help you understand how students can use the work of others without permission and what to do when permission is needed.

Non-permissible use, such as engaging in illegal downloading and unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials using OHSU systems, may result in academic disciplinary actions—see your student handbook for more information.

When can I reuse the work of others?

Student work often satisfies several of the four fair use factors.

Student works are usually created for educational purposes, and they often include criticism or commentary on the work being used.  This satisifies the first factor of fair use, the purpose or character of the use.

Students typically use published, factual source works.  This satisfies the second factor of fair use, the nature of the copyrighted work.

Finally, students are rarely commercial actors.  This satisfies the fourth factor of fair use, the effect upon the potental market for the work.

When might I need permission to reuse the work of others?

Sometimes students reuse the work of others in ways that may not be allowed under fair use.

When a work is used without commentary, such as using a picture as a decoration or to add visual interest, this likely disfavors the first factor of fair use, the purpose or character of the use.

When a large portion of the "heart" of a creative work is used, this may disfavor the third factor of fair use, the amount and substantiality of the portion used.

When a work is used to substitute for purchases the student or others would have otherwise made, this likely disfavors the fourth factor of fair use, the effect upon the potential market for the use.

How can I determine if my use is fair?

Using the work of others in your scholarship might not require permission if the work is in the public domain it has a Creative Commons license you own the copyright; or you have determined your use would be considered fair use.

When making a fair use determination, the law requires four factors be considered. Each of these factors is given equal weight:

  1. The purpose and character of the use
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used
  4. The effect upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work

Use a fair use checklist to weigh these factors and document your assessment.

If you determine that your use would not be considered fair, you should seek written permission from the copyright owner.

What do I need to know about copyright and my dissertation or thesis?

In the U.S., copyright is granted automatically to the creator upon creation of the work. Such works include student theses and dissertations. The Theses, Dissertations, Capstones, & Portfolios section of the Library website has more information about your document and copyright, as well as a list of copyright links that are relevant to ETDs.