Scholarly books and journal articles are usually intended by their authors to be used for teaching and learning. However, the contracts offered by publishers can limit those uses in ways the authors didn't intend. When you sign your next article or book contract, please consider:

  • Ensuring that the contract allows other teachers and students to use your work in the classroom without additional fees. For guidance, see Open Access Resolution.
  • Placing a copy of your article, book chapter, or book in the Digital Grinnell repository for access by all readers.
  • Encouraging your colleagues, your scholarly society, and your editorial boards to promote minimal restrictions on the educational use of published work.

Other Useful Sources of Information

What Is Copyright?

“Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works. … Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed.” —United States Copyright Office.

What Is Fair Use?

“One of the rights accorded to the owner of copyright is the right to reproduce or to authorize others to reproduce the work … This right is subject to certain limitations found in sections 107 through 118 of the copyright law (title 17, U. S. Code). One of the more important limitations is the doctrine of “fair use.” The doctrine of fair use has developed through a substantial number of court decisions over the years and has been codified in section 107 of the copyright law.

"Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair.

  • The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
  • The nature of the copyrighted work
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  • The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work

"The distinction between what is fair use and what is infringement in a particular case will not always be clear or easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.”—United States Copyright Office