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A quick guide to Augustana's copyright policy.

Members of the Augustana College community are often faced with questions regarding the appropriate use of works created by others including books, articles, video, music, images, and other intellectual property. The purpose of the Augustana College Copyright Policy is to provide answers to some of those questions, along with an overview of how federal copyright laws impact activities at Augustana College.

If you have questions about copyright, please contact library director Stefanie Bluemle (x7167), head of circulation Christine Aden (x7819), or your liaison librarian.

Navigating Copyright

What is copyright?

In the words of Augustana College's copyright policy, "copyright is a form of protection provided by federal copyright laws to the authors of 'original works of authorship,' including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. The 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the copyright holder the exclusive right to authorize others to reproduce the work, prepare derivative works based upon the work, distribute copies of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, and perform or display the work publicly. ...

"Copyright occurs automatically at the creation of new work. Work is copyrighted the moment it is fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Formal procedures such as copyright notice, registration, or publication are not required to obtain copyright."

Why should I care about copyright?

  • For everyone, including students:

Copyright law governs whether, and to what extent, you can borrow the work of others when you are creating your own work, whether that is a paper, project, presentation, website, video, etc., etc. What you're allowed to do, and what constitutes "fair use" of a copyrighted work under U.S. copyright law, is especially important to understand when you make your work available for public consumption, such as on a website, in a video on social media, or in a project you post to Augustana Digital Commons, to name just a few examples. Creators who violate others' copyright can be subject to civil and even criminal penalties.

However, copyright law also protects you. That's right! If you create and share your own, original piece of work in a tangible medium of expression, that work is automatically copyrighted to you. The same rules and restrictions that you face in drawing on others' work apply to people when they want to draw on your work. You also have the ability to specify in advance how others can and cannot use a work of your own that you have posted to the web, with help from licenses developed by organizations such as Creative Commons.

Similarly, if you see a Creative Commons or similar license on a work that you find, or if you note that a work is in the "public domain," that gives you very specific information about how you are and are not allowed to use the work. Understanding the basics of copyright will help you make these determinations more effectively.

  • For faculty:

In addition to everything noted above, faculty need to consider how copyright and fair use considerations affect what materials they can distribute and share with classes, and how they can and cannot do so. The "For Faculty" section of this copyright guide summarizes the questions we field most frequently in the library. Augustana's copyright policy (linked above) provides more thorough guidelines, especially in sections IV-VIII.

What else do I need to know?

This copyright guide highlights big ideas and FAQs only. For thorough guidance on how Augustana approaches copyright, see the college's official copyright policy (linked above).