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Copyright for Students

This guide will give students a basic knowledge of copyright and "fair use" rules, and will offer suggested sources for locating images, sounds, and video clips for school projects.


There are many ways in which a "work" may be protected.  Before you use any words, images, sounds, or moving images that you did not create yourself, it's important to determine the source of the work and its status under the Copyright Law of the United States, or the laws of the country in which it was created.

This LibGuide will help you determine if and when you may use the work of another person, group, or corporation. 

Browse the above tabs for assistance in finding works for use in projects and assignments, and determining if you may use them. 

Copyright defined

Merriam-Webster defines copyright as "the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, sell, or distribute the matter and form of something (such as a literary, musical, or artistic work) . How copyright applies to you, however, requires a more complicated answer.

"Copyright." Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 20 June 2017.

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Copyright Basics from the US Copyright Office

Copyright Infringement and Plagiarism

Copyright infringement penalties vary widely depending on the offense. Federal penalties for Copyright Infringement may be found on the website of the Department of Justice.

Plagiarism is "the act of stealing or passing off as one’s own work the words, ideas or conclusions of another as if the work submitted were the product of one’s own thinking rather than an idea or product derived from another source." (Florida State College at Jacksonville) Florida State College at Jacksonville treats plagiarism as an instance of Academic Dishonesty.

If you are in doubt about the usability of words, images, or sounds, consult your professor, the Writing Lab, or a librarian at the Library and Learning Commons.


Some of the many forms of copyright protection


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Fair Use

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Creative Commons

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Public Domain

Images are from Openclipart (CC0 1.0