​Copyright Done Right

The following six examples provide a quick way to better understand copyrighted materials. Use these questions to ensure you stay within the law.

Electronic Materials

Q: Do the copyright principles that apply to print materials also apply to electronic materials?
A: Yes. The principles that apply to materials posted electronically are the same as those that apply to print materials.

Link, Upload, or Print

Q: Should I link to electronic materials instead of uploading them or printing copies?
A: It is preferable to link to copyrighted materials already legally available online or in a library database.

Amount of the Work

Q: How much can I copy without permission?
A: It is generally considered safe to copy one journal article per issue and up to 10% of other intellectual properties.


Q: Have I included appropriate attribution?
A: It is important to include citations for all the works you are using on the item.

Academic Purposes

Q: Is my use a "Fair Use"?
A: Perhaps. The fair use doctrine provides for limited use of copyrighted materials for educational and research purposes without permission from the copyright owner. Whether a particular use is a "fair use" requires a case-by-case balancing of four subjective factors. Those factors include:

  1. The purpose and character of the use. Use for educational purposes is favored over commercial use. However, not all educational uses are fair use.
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work to be used. Use of a work that is factual (as opposed to imaginative) weighs toward a finding of fair use.
  3. The amount and significance of the portion used in relation to the entire work.
  4. The impact of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. Where a work is available for purchase or license at a reasonable cost, copying a significant portion would likely weigh against fair use.

Copyright policies and guidelines

Who can I contact with my copyright questions?

For assistance answering your copyright questions, please email: copyright@sandiego.edu.
For more information on the University of San Diego's Copyright Guidelines, please visit: http://www.sandiego.edu/library/about/copyright/.

The University of San Diego expects all members of the University community to respect and comply with copyright law (Title 17 of the United States Code). Ignoring Copyright policies is a risk to the individual as well as the university.