What Is Copyright?

What Are My Rights?

Using Others' Work

Copyright protects a wide range of materials such as books, articles, photographs, paintings, music, sound recordings, websites, emails; copyright can apply to any original work of authorship that is fixed in any tangible means of expression. Works are automatically protected, no copyright notice is required.

A copyright infringement may occur when you copy, display, perform, distribute or create a derivative version of a copyrightable work without the permission of the copyright holder.

Copyright law provides some exceptions to the rights of copyright owners. “Fair Use” is one such exception, but does not apply to all educational uses of copyrighted materials.

The library is able to consult with members of the Vanderbilt community on issues related to copyright, just Ask a Librarian.


Faculty engaged in teaching and publication. In the development of teaching tools and in publishing, faculty face multiple copyright issues in their work. The office of Scholarly Communications provides consultation and presentations on copyright related issues, such as Authors' Rights and Open Access. The library also provides assistance with reserve materials and copyright clearance.


Copyright plays a large part in students use and re-use of materials in their course of study and research. Misattribution of copyrighted materials is often characterized as plagiarism, which can be a concern for students. Subject Librarians are available to consult with students about copyrighted materials and best practices for citing others' work.

FAQ (Coming soon)

Frequently asked questions about copyright at Vanderbilt.

Additional Resources

The use of library resources is governed by copyright law and license agreements. The library provides guidelines for using our digital content and the digital copyright compliance is covered in Vanderbilt's Computing Privileges and Responsibilities policy.