Understand the general principles of copyright and intellectual property law and how they may apply to specific situations.

General Information

What is Copyright?

Copyright ensures that an author controls over how their work is distributed and used. Copyright covers anything you create in a “fixed tangible form” such as research articles in a journal, chapters in a textbook, dissertations, websites, or even the code of software you designed.

Where can I find some basic information about copyright?

What happens if a publisher or copyright holder says I violated copyright?

The publisher should be able to prove they have copyright. If you do not have rights to use images or text, you may have used alternative and openly available materials. If you have questions, you can contact a member of the scholarly communication team for further help.

Should I ask the Library to obtain copyright permissions for my course reserves?

If the use would not be considered a "fair use" (see section below), then reserve staff will attempt to obtain copyright permission from the rights holder. If you have specific questions related to an intended use for your course, please contact us.

Fair Use

Fair Use

I have been told that I can use “fair use." What is it and what can I do?

  • Fair use is a doctrine in copyright law that can be applied to education and to publishing. It is very case specific. There are some good resources at https://fairuse.stanford.edu/.
  • You should also contact us with specific questions related to your intended use.
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Copyright and Scholarship

I would like to make an article I published more widely available, how can I do that?

Can I use copyrighted materials in my research or teaching?

There are many exceptions within copyright law that allow for scholars and teachers to make use of copyrighted materials in their work. The most common of these exceptions is what is known as “fair use.” Fair use is highly case-specific, so if you have questions about such uses, please contact a member of the scholarly communication team with details about your intended use.


What are license agreements?

License agreements permit publishers in most academic journals to take copyright from you thereby removing your ability to disseminate the work elsewhere, meaning that access to the work is only available to those with a subscription to that journal.

License agreements, however, can be used in other ways. Many open access journals allow authors to retain their copyright and thus their ability to disseminate the work through other channels.

I have been asked to sign a Creative Commons license, what is that?

  • Creative Commons licenses allow authors to share their work in a variety of ways. We frequently consult with faculty and graduate students on issues related to Creative Commons licensing.
  • If you need help choosing or understanding Creative Commons licenses, please contact us.

Additional Resources on Copyright and Licensing

Email & Phone

Scholarly Communication Program


Scholarly Communication Program

Baker-Berry Library
25 North Main Street
Hanover, NH 03755 

Our Staff

Shawn J. Martin
Shawn J. Martin
Head of Scholarly Communication, Copyright and Publishing
Abigail G. Murdy profile image
Abigail G. Murdy
Scholarly Publishing Librarian
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