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Help with Copyright

When deciding whether to use any intellectual property beyond just making reference to it, go through the four questions below to figure out your options. Check the links provided under each question to make an informed decision.

Is the work protected?

Before arriving at an affirmative answer, check for copyright, patent, trademark and privacy or publicity rights protections that may be relevant.

  • Cornell's Reference Table. Copyright terms in the United States for unpublished and published works, sound recordings and architectural drawings.
  • Copyright Slider. A nifty tool to figure out the copyright status of published works.
  • Copyright Renewals Database. Index of the copyright renewal records for books published in the US between 1923 and 1963.
  • Patent Search. Unlike copyright, patents protect ideas. This may be more relevant if what you are trying to use is software or a business method.
  • Trademark Search. Check this if you plan to use specific words, phrases, names, and symbols to identify goods or services for commercial purposes.
  • Privacy and Publicity in Texas. Consider the interests of anyone who may be the subject of unpublished letters, diary entries, photographs, or any other work you are planning to use.

Is there a license in place?

Check the work for any indication of what uses of it are allowed. The tools below can help you determine what uses may be permited.

Does an exception apply?

Even in the absence of a license, there your use may be covered by an exeption to copyright protection. Use this resources to help you determine whether that is the case.

How do I get permission?

    The copyright statement on a book is often a good indication of who the right holder is, but it may be more accurate to figure that out and secure permission through the sites listed here.

  • Copyright Clearance Center. Especially good for getting permission to use textual works and ensure compliance with their copyright.
  • Christian Copyright Licensing International. Options for storing and projecting lyrics, printing songs, recording worship services, making custom arrangements and translating songs.
  • Firms Out of Business. Aa database with information about vanished publishing concerns, literary agencies, and similar firms.
  • Motion Picture Licensing Corporation. Blanket licenses that may be especially useful for film showings outside of the classroom and musical performances.
  • WATCH File. A database of copyright contacts for writers, artists, and prominent figures in other creative fields.

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