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Jean & Alexander Heard Libraries

Digital Scholarship
and Communications

Copyright and Fair Use

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 or registration is required. As an author, you have certain rights to your work that publishers often require you to turn over in exchange for publication in a journal. How can you preserve your copyright when publishing or otherwise distributing your creation? How can you share the fruits of your scholarship with others without limiting their rights? To what extent can you reuse other people's creations fairly in your own scholarship?

Now more than ever it is crucial that you understand your rights as an artist, author, or creator of any sort. We are available to help you interpret and understand the Copyright Policy. While we are not qualified to provide legal advice (you'll need to approach the Office of the General Counsel for specific legal guidance), we are ready and able to assist you with understanding the fundamentals of copyright law and to point you to resources designed to protect your rights as a scholarly creator. Additionally, learn how to use the SPARC addendum to preserve the right to post your scholarly articles on your own website and to deposit them in the Institutional Repository, Vanderbilt University's scholarly repository. Discover how to find images distributed under Creative Commons licenses to reuse in your work. Understand the scope and limits of fair use as you draw on the works of others.

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 Digital Scholarship and Communications (DiSC) Office is happy to guide you through a Fair Use evaluation. A Fair Use Checklist is provided to ensure you have proper documentation backing up your claim. For more information about copyright services at Vanderbilt, please visit the Copyright Resource Page.