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Starting on Thursday, December 23, 2021, MeLCat Borrowing and Lending will be suspended while the MSU Libraries undergoes a significant software transition.

MSU students, staff, and faculty can continue to utilize interlibrary loan by placing requests through the MSU Libraries Interlibrary Services department. Community patrons will not be able to use MeLCat through the MSU Libraries during this time, but they can continue to do so using their local public library.

Copyright FAQ

The shift to online learning for MSU classes has brought many copyright questions. During the past year when face-to-face teaching was not an option, some recommendations took into account the pandemic emergency. Now that we are operating more normally, we must apply the law more as usual. Please use the FAQ below for general advice, and consult with Susan Kendall, Copyright Librarian about any questions related to your specific need.

The MSU Office of the General Counsel and the MSU Libraries' Message to Instructors about Copyright and the Shift to Online Learning

For teaching at MSU

May I post a PDF article or book chapter from the MSU Libraries online in my D2L course?

NOT WITHOUT PERMISSION, our license agreements prohibit posting articles/text in an electronic location different from the vendor's own platform. This is considered republishing and requires seeking permissions and perhaps paying fees. The preferred option that doesn't require seeking permission is to create a stable link (including proxy server information) from within your D2L course or other web site to the desired article.

Exceptions: If you know that an article has been published under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license, which many open access articles are, you are free to post the PDF.

May I post a link to an article or book chapter from the MSU Libraries online in my D2L course?

YES, this is the preferred option for directing students to electronic content and does not require seeking permission. Be sure that you create a stable link to the article or chapter and that it includes the EZ Proxy so that students can access from off campus.

May I scan book chapters or articles and place online in D2L?

IT DEPENDS. Digitizing can be viewed as an attempt to circumvent purchasing the work. If the amount of the work scanned is small (say, one chapter from a book), a case can be made that this falls under "fair use". This is a matter of judgment, and you can contact the Copyright Librarian for advice. The MSU Libraries may be able to purchase an electronic copy of the book for you to link to instead, which is preferable.   Alternatively, MSU Libraries Permissions Specialist, Tyler Smeltekop can research the rights holder and request permissions for you to scan and post part of the work in D2L, but this will usually require paying royalties, so may not be an option unless you have a budget.

Exception: If the book or article was published before 1926, it is in the public domain, and you may scan and use without getting permissions.

May I make a DVD available as a streaming movie for my class online in D2L?

NOT WITHOUT PERMISSION. The MSU Libraries subscribes to several streaming movie services, and you may be able to find the movie or an alternative that works for your class that way. Search the MSU Libraries online catalog and check the MSU Libraries Streaming Video Guide. In general, streaming just a small clip from a DVD may be considered "fair use". You may submit a request that the MSU Libraries investigate licensing a video in streaming format. You may also contact MSU Libraries Permissions Specialist, Tyler Smeltekop to research the rights holder and request permissions for you stream a movie, however, getting rights to use movies can be expensive. If none of these options works for you, please contact Susan Kendall to review other options.

May I post copies of images online in D2L?

NOT WITHOUT PERMISSION. Posting images, artwork, photographs, or diagrams in D2L, whether you found them in MSU-subscribed electronic textbooks or through a Google search, usually requires seeking out the rights holder and asking for permission. You may contact MSU Libraries Permissions Specialist, Tyler Smeltekop to research the rights holder.

Exceptions:

Some MSU Libraries licensed electronic resources allow images to be used in D2L without extra permissions. Please ask the Copyright Librarian for advice about the use of any specific product. The MSU Libraries has negotiated the rights to use images from certain medical or health textbooks in D2L and other MSU online course modules without requiring you to seek extra permissions. The Health Sciences Image Resource Guide has details.

Many images online are available to use without permission, but you are responsible to check the rights holder and the license information. This includes public domain images (such as images scanned from books published prior to 1926), images that are published online under a Creative Commons License, and images published by the U.S. government. Wikimedia Commons is a good place to start searching for such images.

May I use images/videos/music in class? What about online class?

USUALLY YES. Generally, for educational purposes, instructors may use materials such as images, videos, or music in a face-to-face class without having to seek permissions. With the shift to online learning, this can also apply if a class online replicates a face-to-face class held synchronously and only for MSU students. However, if you wish to post your lecture slides online in D2L or post these materials for students to view or hear outside of a classroom, that is considered making a copy/publishing, and the rules change somewhat, even for distance education.  See the above FAQ about using images, streaming video, and other sources in D2L.

May I post a copy of my own article online?

MAYBE. The question is whether you still own the rights to your work. In many cases, publishers request that authors sign a form transferring copyright to them or at least giving them the sole rights of dissemination. Check the author agreements you signed for any books, book chapters, or journal articles you may have published. You may find the publisher does allow you to post a copy of an individual article or book chapter in an institutional repository or on your own web site, but there may be a waiting period (say 6 months to a year after publication).  Or, you may be allowed to post a pre-print of the article but not the final PDF formatted version.

Exception: If you know you published your article or book chapter open access with a Creative Commons license, you retain copyright and the right to post your work.

 

For publishing articles/books/dissertations

May I publish images I did not create in a journal article or book?

NOT WITHOUT PERMISSION. Publishing images, artwork, photographs, or diagrams (that you did not create) , whether you found them in MSU-subscribed databases or through a Google search, usually requires seeking out the rights holder and asking for permission. If you are publishing with a publisher, they will require written permission for every image you plan to include. This applies even if you copy an image and change some details. If your image has enough similarity to the original, it requires permission to use and alter. 

There are several ways to get permissions.  If you are publishing with a scientific (or some social sciences) publisher and your image is from the same or another scientific publisher (book or journal), permissions may be free under the STM agreement.  All the information about what you need, and the email to request it from, are on that page.

For publishers and images not covered under that agreement, Copyright Clearance Center lets you quickly get permission to use images (like scientific graphs and illustrations) from published books and journal articles.  It may not be free, so talk to your publisher about who will pay for permissions and what you need to request (how many copies will be published, electronic plus print, etc).  

Historical photos and photos of artwork are a different matter.  Check for information on the source of your image.  Good sources will post copyright information, and you may need to follow up by emailing copyright holders.  This can be a long process, and some you will never get permissions for.  So, you may need to be flexible in the images you include in your article or book.    

When you publish the image, be sure to include citation, copyright information and "reprinted with permission" below it.  

 

Exceptions:

Many images online are available to use without permission, but you are responsible to check the rights holder and the license information.  This includes public domain images (such as images scanned from books published prior to 1926), images that are published online under a Creative Commons License, and images published by the U.S. government. Wikimedia Commons is a good place to start searching for such images, but be sure that you get to information on the original source of the image.  Sometimes secondary sources like Wikimedia can have incorrect copyright information.  

May I publish images that I did not create in my dissertation?

NOT WITHOUT PERMISSION. Publishing images, artwork, photographs, or diagrams (that you did not create) in your dissertation, whether you found them in MSU-subscribed databases or through a Google search, usually requires seeking out the rights holder and asking for permission. ProQuest may ask you to submit written proof of permission for each image. Copyright Clearance Center lets you quickly get permission to use images (like scientific graphs and illustrations) from published books and journal articles, and, almost always, it is free for dissertations as long as you are not using too many images. Historical photos and photos of artwork are a different matter. Check for information on the source of your image. Good sources will post copyright information. For images from web sites (like photos of technical equipment), you will need to email the company for permission.

When you publish the image, be sure to include citation, copyright information and "reprinted with permission" below it.  

Exceptions:

Many images online are available to use without permission, but you are responsible to check the rights holder and the license information.  This includes public domain images (such as images scanned from books published prior to 1926), images that are published online under a Creative Commons License, and images published by the U.S. government. Wikimedia Commons is a good place to start searching for such images, but be sure that you get to the origin of the image.  Sometimes secondary sources have incorrect copyright information.  

May I use an article I already published as part of my dissertation?

ALMOST ALWAYS WITH PERMISSION. If you have published with a traditional publisher, you may have signed copyright over to them. However, reusing articles for which you are an author or co-author in your dissertation is very common, and most publishers understand this. Some allow you to do so without permission, and others require you to ask permission. You will need to check the guide for authors on the web page of the journal where your article is published. Copyright Clearance Center lets you quickly get permission for those that require you to do so. Some very small publishers may require you to email for permission.

If your article was published open access under a Creative Commons license, you retain copyright and control over your article and can continue to do whatever you want with it, including republishing it.  

 

For teaching or showing to non-MSU audiences

What materials may I safely use in an online open course (MOOC)?

We recommend that you assign course readings that can be freely shared or readings, films, and sound recordings that you can link to rather than downloading. Freely shared material includes:

  • Material you create expressly for the course
  • Your own published material for which you have retained copyright (check your author agreements on published items)
  • Public domain items
  • Open access or Creative Commons-licensed items such as open educational resources or open access journal articles.
  • Material that falls under the "fair use" provision of the U.S. Copyright Act
  • Material for which you requested permission from the copyright holder to use in your open online course

See Copyright Guidelines page for information on what is meant by public domain and fair use.

May I show a movie on campus that is open to the public?

NOT WITHOUT GETTING PERFORMANCE RIGHTS. Outside of a classroom setting or an individual household, you must seek performance rights to show a movie to a group. This includes DVDs and all streaming video services. You may contact MSU Libraries Permissions Specialist, Tyler Smeltekop to research the rights holder and request permissions on your behalf, but be aware that it will usually cost money.  You may not use your Netflix, Amazon Prime, or any individual streaming account to show movies to a group.

If you found the streaming video through the MSU Libraries Catalog, there is a chance that we have already negotiated performance rights, so please check with the Copyright Librarian if you are interested in showing a video we have available streaming.