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Copyright Information

This collection of resource links is intended to provide faculty, staff, and students of the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus a framework for understanding US copyright law and fair use doctrine. (Does not constitute legal advice.)

Copyright Tools

The following links can be helpful in determining what is permissable and if your use of copyrighted work will fall under fair use.

U.S. Copyright Office

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Relevant Copyright Legislation

Relevant legislation that has impacted the polices of Copyright and Fair Use.

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What is Copyright?

Copyright is legal protection for creative intellectual works. Almost any expression of an idea is covered by copyright.  This includes text (such as books, articles, emails, and web-based information), photographs, art, graphics, music, and software. 

Works are now copyrighted at the moment of creation so before using another person's intellectual work, certain factors need to be considered.  

Copyright does not protect works that:

  • lack originality (like the phone book),
  • are in the public domain,
  • are freeware (not shareware),
  • are US government works,
  • are facts (news),
  • or are ideas, processes, methods, and systems described in copyrighted works.

For more detailed information including how copyright works, how it is used, and the consequences for unauthorized use, visit:

Copyright at CU

For more detailed CU policies regarding Copyright and the library, discoveries/patents, educational materials, or technology transfers, please visit:

CU Health Sciences Library Copyright Policy

Intellectual Property Policy on Discoveries and Patents for their Protection and Commercialization

Intellectual Property that is Educational Materials

Technology Transfer at the University of Colorado

How Do I Obtain Copyright Permissions?

Use the Copyright Tools box to determine if your use of copyrighted work falls under Fair Use.  If it does not, then you can use the following tools to seek out permission of the work's creator:

What is Fair Use?

Fair Use is an exemption detailed in Section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976.  It allows certain exemptions of reproducing and distributing copyrighted materials for the following purposes:

  • Teaching,
  • Research,
  • News Reporting,
  • Criticism,
  • Comment,
  • Scholarship.

However, not all uses of copyrighted work which fall under these categories can be considered Fair Use.  So, to determine whether your purpose of using a work would fall under Fair Use, all of the following four factors must be considered:

  1. Purpose and character of the use
    • Is the use for nonprofit educational purposes or for commercial purposes?
    • A particular use is more likely to be considered fair use if it is for nonprofit educational use.
  2. Nature of the copyrighted work
    • Is the material factual or imaginative?
    • A particular use is more likely to be considered fair use if the material is primarily factual.
  3. Amount and substantiality of the portion used
    • Is a small amount being used to illustrate a point, or is the entire work being used?
    • A particular use is more likely to be considered fair use if it is a small portion of the overall piece.
  4. Effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work
    • Does using the material compete with potential profits that the owner could be entitled to?
    • An instance is more likely to be considered fair use if it is has no impact on potential profits of the copyright owner. (This is often the most difficult factor to overcome.)
    • Repeated use tends to affect market value

Retrieved from:

For information on Fair Use and using materials for class, please click here.