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Indy Historical

Information resource guide for H542: Introduction to Public History course with instructor Dr. Rebecca Shrum and collaborator Dr. John Dichtl.

Using Others' Work

Steps to Determining if you can use others' content in Indy Historical:

 1. Determine if the the work is in the public domain.  If it falls in public domain you are free to use in Indy Historical.

Public Domain

A public domain work is a creative work that is not protected by copyright and which may be freely used by everyone.  The reasons that the work is not protected include: (1) the term of copyright for the work has expired; (2) the author failed to satisfy statutory formalities to perfect the copyright or (3) the work is a work of the U.S. Government.

Chart for determining public domain, from Cornell University.

2. Determine if your use of the work falls under Fair Use guidelines. If it falls under Fair Use guidelines, you are free to use in Indy Historical.

Fair Use

Fair use may not be what you expect. Whether or not you are within the boundaries of fair use depends on the facts of your particular situation. What exactly are you using? How widely are you sharing the materials? Are you confining your work to the nonprofit environment of the university?

To determine whether you are within fair use, the law calls for a balanced application of these four factors:

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

These four factors come directly from the fair use provision, Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act, and they have been examined and developed in court rulings. The following summaries explain the significance of the factors as they relate to many university needs.

-above content from Copyright Adivsory Office of Columbia University

Tools for assisting in determining Fair Use.

3.  If the work is not in the Public Domain and does not fall under Fair Use guidelines, you need to determine who/what entity owns the copyright and seek the permission of that person/entity.

  • Your instructors have already done some of this work for you, making special arrangements with particular individuals.  Check with Dr. Shrum and Dr. Dichtl to see if your item is part of this arrangement.  The Indiana Historical Society and Heritage Photo and Research Services are two such organizations that have prior arrangements.  They both still require that their items be credited to their organizations.
  • Below are a couple documents that can be used to acquire permission from copyright owners.  They are geard towards individuals with photographs or individuals sharing oral histories/interviews.  They include the rights forms but also data you should consider collecting at the time of acquisition.

How Others Use Your Work

Creative Commons is an easy way to tell others specifically how they can or cannot use work you have created.  Answer a few questions and generate a license that you can attach to any create material.