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Scholarly Publishing

Copyright and Creative Commons

Through a Creative Commons license you can keep your copyright while still proactively granting permission for certain types of use such as attribution.

Image: Creative Commons reform graphic

Rights and Execptions

The copyright law grants a number of exemptions to the exclusive rights of the copyright holder among them:

Make single copies of articles for personal use. 

Reformat works to accommodate disabilities. ( To request accommodation under the American Disabilities act contact Notre Dame's Disability Services.)

Quote passages for review or criticism.

Perform (a straight cover) of music.

Questions?  Ask us!  We can not provide legal advice but we can provide information.

Copyright and Notre Dame Research

Works created in the course of employment are considered "work for hire".  Section 201 (b) of the US Copyright Law states "In the case of a work made for hire, the employer or other person for whom the work was prepared is considered the author for purposes of this title, and, unless the parties have expressly agreed otherwise in a written instrument signed by them, owns all of the rights comprised in the copyright." 

As faculty, staff and students of the University of Notre Dame we all produce copyrighted content in the course of our work such as developing the content for this page. Notre Dame's Research-Related Policies on Intellectual Property Policies details what content the university claims as work-for-hire and where it grants the copyright back to you. "...the University does not normally claim ownership of works such as textbooks, articles, papers, scholarly monographs, or artistic works."

Copyright and Dissertations

"Copyright and your Dissertation or Thesis: Ownership, Fair Use, and your Rights and Responsibilities"  Kenneth Crews provided through a Creative Commons License.  This is written with special regard to submitting your dissertation or thesis to ProQuest but is a good summary for copyright awareness over all.

"A Graduate Student's Guide to Copyright:  Open Access, Fair Use, and Permissions"  U-M Copyright Office 2010  provided through a Creative Commons License.  While some of this information is specific to the University of Michigan the general considerations for copyright. fair use, permissions and publishers may be helpful.

Notre Dame's Policy "Reproducing Copyright Material" 

What is copyright and how do I get it?

This guide is intended for informational use only and should not be considered legal advice or as a substitute for advice of counsel.

How does a work become copyrighted?

For works created after 1989 copyright is automatic and immediate; law only requires that it be original and fixed in a tangible form. This is a very encompassing definition, for example words on a computer screen are considered fixed. Works do not need to carry a notice of copyright or be registered with the Copyright Office to be protected by copyright.  

What is copyright?

Copyright is intellectual property and, just like other property can be given away or sold.  US Code Title 17, the US copyright law grants the owner a series of exclusive rights including the right to:

  • Make copies
  • Create derivative works based on the work
  • Distribute copies
  • Perform or display the work

Do I need to register my copyright?

In most instances, no. Your work is protected without registration. If you want to defend your copyright vigorously including taking infringers to court you may wish to consider registration. The fee for registration varies but registration can be done on paper or online.  

Notre Dame Copyright Policies

 Notre Dame's Digital Millennium Copyright Agent's office is Timothy J Flanagan.  

Fair Use

Fair use provides exceptions to the exclusive rights of the copyright holder.  Fair use allows limited use without royalties or permissions. Examples of fair use are quoting passages for review or criticism or making a copy of an article for personal use.   

Public Domain

Works in the Public Domain are works that were never, or are no longer protected by copyright.  The copyright law is designed to have content age out of copyright protection and, not everything is copyrightable. For example facts, book titles and ideas can not be copyrighted.

The Copyright Slider can help you determine if a publication is in the public domain or not. 

Creative Commons


Creative Commons License: A means to retain copyright while proactively granting permission to reuse the work under specific conditions such as attribution.  

Embargo: Embargoes for articles is the length of time between when the article is first published and when it becomes available through channels other than the publisher. This could mean becoming open access through requirements such as the NIH public access mandate or being available through a content aggregator such as Academic Search Premier.  Embargoes for dissertations and thesis is the length of time between when the dissertation is accepted and when it is made available. Authors embargo their dissertations when they hope to publish a revised version as a book or as book chapters. 

Fair Use: specific exemptions to the exclusive rights of the copyright holder.  Fair Use (section 107) includes common academic activities such as the ability to review, criticize, quote, make a copy of an article for personal use.

Infringement: in the context of copyright, using more of a copyright work than is allowed by law.

License: a license is a contract. Signing a license can mean you are giving your copyright to a publisher.  

Notre Dame Honor Code:  Notre Dame's Honor Code outlines the responsibilities of students and faculty for ethical conduct of teaching and research. The code forbids use of material, without attribution, whether or not it is copyrighted.

Open Access: The ability to read an article is not dependent on having a journal subscription. 

Orphan Works: works still believed to be in copyright but there is no way to identify or contact the copyright owner, e.g. photographs of studio no longer in business.

Rights of the copyright holder:  the copyright law (17 U.S.Code Section 106) grants copyright holders the right to reproduce the work, prepare derivative works, distribute copies, perform and display perform the work.  

Plagiarism: presenting someone else's work, ideas or concepts as your own.  Plagiarism is an ethical concept.  Copyright violation is a legal concept.

Public Domain: works no longer in copyright or never covered by copyright.

SPARC addendum:  Publisher agreements may give authors some rights to reuse their works, the SPARC addendum in an addendum to the publisher agreement giving the authors specific additional rights to their works including the ability to make coies available for noncommercial use.  

TEACH Act:  The TEACH Act allows certain activities such as showing a feature-length film without payment provided the activity takes place within the context of face-to-face instruction.  The TEACH Act is not copyright law does give exemptions to the rights of copyright holders.

Transformative Work:  A fair use under copyright law. Use of a copyright work that changes the purpose and intent of the original work.

Work for hire: works made in the normal course of employment such as the text of this LibGuide. When a work is created as part of your job your employer owns the copyright unless both parties have an agreement in place to allow you to retain the copyright.  Notre Dame's Intellectual Property Policy  describes the works where the University claims exclusive rights and where they waive the right.  In general if you write an article or a book the University allows you to keep the copyright but other intellectual property such as patents belong to Notre Dame.