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Copyright & Fair Use

Understanding the ins and outs of copyright is challenging. The best advice is usually to know where to find the information when you need it, which is why we've compiled this research guide.

Guidelines for Copyright

Guidelines for Copyrighted Materials


Copyright law clearly grants rights and legal protections to authors or creators, but there are a some exceptions to using copyrighted content without permission. There are at least five categories or conditions by which copyrighted content may be used without permission.

Condition 1 - Public Domain

Public Domain


First, this includes content that is not protected by copyright. Most works published in the U.S. in 1922 or earlier now fall outside of copyright protection. (On January 1, 2019, this will change to 1923 or earlier.) Also, works published before 1989 without a copyright notice, and works published before 1963 that did not obtain copyright renewal. (For more on copyright term and public domain -- really far more complex than stated above, see this resource:

Condition 2 - Open Access

Open Access


Second, as the concept of “open” resources has emerged there is an increasing volume of content that is made readily available. This content generally falls under the umbrella of “Open Access” (OA) of which there are multiple variations. This brochure from SPARC provides a good introduction to OA with respect to scholarly journal articles.

Most OA content, as well as a broader range of creative work, may be offered under a “Creative Commons” license. (See “Open” publication/dissemination does not, however, preclude or negate an author/creator’s copyright.

Condition 3 - Licensed Materials

Licensed Materials


Third, the Zondervan Library acquires many copyrighted, digital (or electronic) resources, for example databases, journals, and eBooks that are licensed for use by Taylor faculty, students, and staff. In general these resources are licensed for instruction and personal research. The Library provides technological safeguards to ensure that only authorized Taylor users have access to those licensed resources.

Condition 4 - Education Provisions

Education Provisions


Fourth, there are a few specific provisions for using copyrighted content in an educational context. These are identified below -- “Copyright exceptions for education” -- together with guides and other resources that may help to inform appropriate use of content protected by copyright.

Condition 5 - Fair Use

Fair Use


There is a fifth, broader recourse by which to use copyrighted content without permission especially for instructional purposes. This is where the important “fair use” concept and practice comes in.

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