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Copyright Reference Guide For Educators

Obtaining Copyright Permissions

Faculty members are legally responsible for determining whether their use of copyrighted work falls under fair use or requires permission from the copyright owner. Permission to use copyrighted materials must be obtained if the use of copyrighted materials does not meet the standards of fair use discussed above. If there is any doubt whether a use is fair use, it is always best to seek permission. Providing correct attributions or citations will not suffice when permissions are required.

To obtain permission to reproduce or use copyrighted work, faculty members need to identify the copyright owner of the material they intend to use. This information can be located by looking for copyright statements on the copyrighted work. If that information is unavailable, the name and contact information of the creator or publisher can be found by searching online. Once the copyright holder is identified, faculty members should request the right to use the work in the amount and format intended. In some cases, faculty members may need to negotiate and pay a fee to the copyright owner. Permissions must be obtained in writing and preserved for full legal protection. For more information, read the United States Copyright Office’s circular on How to Obtain Permission


SMCCD Bookstore managers and librarians may be able to assist in identifying the rights, negotiating use, and obtaining permissions.

Copyright Tools

The American Library Association has developed copyright tools to help educators and librarians interpret the limitations and exceptions to the exclusive rights granted to the copyright holder under U.S. Copyright law. Exercising these valuable exceptions allows us to actualize copyright’s primary purpose "to promote the progress of science and useful arts." These tools are available freely online to everyone – the Public Domain Slider, the Section 108 Spinner, the Fair Use Evaluator, and the Exceptions for Instructors eTool.