Skip to Main Content

Copyright and Fair Use

Information on copyright law and fair use in an academic setting.


The purpose of this guide is to provide faculty, staff, and students at Missouri Southern with an understanding of copyright law and fair use.

While copyright issues can be complex, everyone needs to understand the basics. Failure to comply with copyright law can lead to substantial legal penalties for both you and the University.

This guide also includes copyright and fair use compliance guidelines for faculty.

MSSU Faculty Handbook APPENDIX R: Common Copyright Scenarios

The information about copyright law and fair use presented in this online guide is intended to assist members of the Missouri Southern community in determining answers to the following questions:

1. Is a work I wish to use for educational or research purposes protected by copyright?

2. If so, what are the steps I must take to ensure that I use the work without infringing the rights of the copyright owner?

Common Copyright Scenarios with proper compliance measures are located under the Fair Use tab above and as appendix R of the July 2015 Faculty Handbook.

Copyright on Campus Video by Copyright Clearance Center

Copyright Law Defined

Copyright law, as defined in Title 17 of the United States Code, protects "original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression" for a limited period. Copyright protection includes, for instance, the legal right to publish and sell literary, artistic, or musical work, and copyright protects authors, publishers and producers, and the public.  Copyright applies both to traditional media (books, records, etc.) and to digital media (electronic journals, web sites, etc.). Copyright protects the following eight categories of works:

  1. literary works
  2. musical works
  3. dramatic works
  4. pantomimes and choreographic works
  5. pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
  6. motion pictures and other audiovisual works
  7. sound recordings
  8. architectural works

Ownership of a copyrighted work includes the right to control the use of that work. Use of such work by others during the term of the copyright requires either permission from the author or reliance on the doctrine of fair use. Failure to do one or the other will expose the user to a claim of copyright infringement for which the law provides remedies including payment of money damages to the copyright owner.


Information contained is this guide was reproduced and altered from the Copyright and Fair Use guide of NYU Polytech.

This site is maintained by the librarians of George A. Spiva Library.
If you have a question or comment about the Library's LibGuides, please contact the site administrator.