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OER (Open Education Resources): Fair Use

Rules for OER

OER are very important tools in our educational toolkit.  However, fair use only goes so far in making our material freely accessible and usable for our students.  Copyright can be a very complicated topic, especially in our online courses.

Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U.S. Code) to the authors of "original works of authorship," including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. 

Copyright protection exists from the moment a work is fixed in a tangible form of expression (This could include a DVD, CD, even a napkin with writing on it).  It is the right granted by law to an author or creator to control the use of the work created. If you want to use a work under copyright, you must get permission to use it.

Works are protected for the life of the author plus 70 years per the 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act which applied to works created from 1978 onwards.  The protected status of works published before 1978 and after 1923 varies in accordance with how they were published, registered, and renewed.   Due to the 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act, materials published, registered, and renewed in the U.S. between 1923 and 1978 stopped falling into the public domain for twenty years, which meant that only material published before 1923 were reliably in the public domain.  In January 2019, items published in 1923 in the U.S. will have their copyright expire. 

Copyright law and duration varies per country.  However, several countries have worked together to create international agreements that align policies across borders.  Foreign works are, for the most part, protected for the same term as works published within the user's country for all signatories of the Berne and TRIPS agreements.  The U.S. is both an adopter of the Berne convention and a party of the TRIPS agreement. (University of South Florida LibGuide)

Creative Commons License Chooser

LibGuides from other Institutions

US.Copyright Office