Skip to Main Content


You are in the main content

Finding and Using Other's Works


Scholars build on the works of others. Isaac Newton is credited with saying "If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants." That is how all scholarship and teaching is accomplished. Yet, our society is an information society and increasingly commoditizing that information. Using other's works is becoming increasingly complex. (see Academic Impact of Copyright)


Generally, in scholarly and academic endeavors you want the most authoritative information you can get which is normally found in the library. What added value do library resources and librarians have over an internet search and the experts at WikiPedia? (answer)

You may usually use copyright-protected media in face to face (F2F) lectures in a classroom. Pointing to or "embedding" publicly available media within your site is probably fine (unless there are licenses that, in fact, prohibit it-always read the fine print). And, pointing to or embedding media licensed by JMU is almost always ok since it usually is protected by authentication.

However, capturing, copying, or "ripping" protected media (music, video, or images) to include in a fixed, tangible "site" usually requires that you obtain permission OR your use falls under provisions of the TEACH Act. (more)

Using Protected Works

In order to confidently assert your rights as a teacher, scholar, student, and citizen, you need to be knowledgeable of your rights. Copyright Triage is a quick and relatively painless way to develop basic understanding. However, to clarify briefly:

For Scholarship and creating documents and presentations and media objects we use Section 107 (Fair Use). The Fair Use Evaluator is the easiest tool to determine whether your particular use is fair.

For teaching in the classroom we rely on 110(1) (Performance and Display in the classroom) which provides certain exceptions to educators in face-2-face teaching The Exceptions for Instructors eTool is the best way to determine whether your uses fall under those exceptions.

For teaching online or in blended environments we rely on TEACH Act (Section 110(2)), which provides for encoding and transmitting protected material online for educational purposes subject to certain provisions, which are, among other things, (1) that the original be lawfully made and acquired; (2) that only reasonable and limited portions be used; (3) that it be a regular part of the systematic mediated instructional activities of an educational institution; (4) and that it be directly related to the teaching content. The Exceptions for Instructors eTool is the best way to determine whether your use falls under those exceptions.

If your use exceeds the provisions of copyrights exceptions to the exclusive rights of authors, one recourse is to request permission. Many times rights owners are happy to provide permission, either for free or a fee.

Additionally, some rights holders may have licensed their material using a Creative Commons License. In that case, you will be able to use the material according to the license provided.


An important aspect of scholarship and creative effort is learning how to use other's works ethically as well as legally by citing sources and observing fair use. When you quote or paraphrase the idea of another person in a research paper, speech, or PowerPoint presentation, you should provide a proper citation in a bibliography or reference list. (more)