Advice on Appropriate Use
Copyright law and guidelines depend to a great extent on individual users making their own decisions. Given the vague nature of the law, deciding what to can seem to be a subjective exercise. There are tools that can help, however.
Is the work I want to use copyright protected?
If you aren’t sure whether the work you want to copy is protected by copyright, this tool from the American Library Association can help you decide.
Is my use considered “fair use”?
Stanford has a nice web tutorial explaining the provisions of fair use, including descriptions of permitted uses for comment & criticism, and parody, plus an explanation of the "four factor test" that governs fair use. The University of Minnesota provides this Fair Use Analysis Tool, which will help you determine whether your use meets the guidelines.
I’m a professor. Is my use exempt from copyright?
Designed specifically for educational environments, this tool clarifies copyright exceptions for instructors. From the Copyright Advisory Network.
Am I breaking the law if I share digital copies of songs?
The Recording Industry of America (RIAA) explains the law on sharing music files. For more information on file sharing, see Copyright Infringement and File Sharing: What Students Need to Know.
How do I obtain permission to use a copyrighted work?
Once it has been established that a planned use of a copyrighted item is not a fair use, permission must be obtained from the copyright holder. This means contacting the copyright holder (or their agent) and requesting permission to copy or publicly display the work. Royalties may have to be paid to obtain permission. For printed works, particularly periodical articles, the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) provides this service and can be contacted directly from this site. For more information see Instructions for First-time users of the Copyright Clearance Center.