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Copyright - Introduction

This guide will help you navigate U.S. copyright law in your scholarly activities.


US Copyright Law was designed to protect the intellectual property rights of copyright holders. The law gives copyright holders the rights to copy and distribute their own work as well as the rights to the royalties for the use of their work by commercial groups.

The copyright law also included provisions that ensure that information can be used for educational purposes. Through the concept of fair use, non-profit educational institutions may use copyright-protected materials for teaching and training without paying royalties or permission fees. However, these are not clear-cut rules for what is or is not fair educational use, but rather are a set of criteria that must be considered when claiming fair use. Anyone wanting to claim fair use must consider all the criteria. 

This Copyright Guide

This guide is not official legal advice. It was written by Duke University Medical Library and modified by PCOM to help you to consider issues surrounding fair use.  "Best practices" are provided for dealing with copyrighted materials to help you avoid violating copyright law. The information presented here is intended for informational purposes and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have specific legal questions please contact the Chief Legal Affairs Officer.

This guide assumes that you are working within the healthcare field and are using more factual or scientific information than literary or creative works. 

Ultimately, the best advice is to consider how you would want your unique intellectual property used by other faculty, presenters, and students. Put yourself in the author's place and ask whether your use of the work is truly "fair use."

For further questions, please contact your campus library.

Guide Information

Last Updated: Feb 27, 2024 3:07 PM