Any information provided here should not be considered legal advice. If UCF faculty and/or staff members encounter questions within the course of their employment regarding copyright law, the university’s guidelines with respect to fair use, university regulations and/or other official UCF documents, they should contact the UCF Office of the General Counsel. UCF students should contact the Office of Scholarly Communication at the John C. Hitt Library.
For UCF Libraries copyright policies related to photocopying, course reserves, interlibrary loan, and special collections, please see Copyright Policies.
What is Copyright?
Copyright (or author’s right) is a legal term used to describe the rights that creators have over their literary and artistic works. Works covered by copyright range from books, music, paintings, sculpture, and films, to computer programs, databases, advertisements, maps, and technical drawings.
Guides & Tools
- U.S. Copyright Office
- UCF Regulation: UCF-2.029 Patents, Trademarks, and Trade Secrets
- UCF Regulation: UCF-2.033 Copyright and Works
Generally, as soon as your work is in a tangible form (e.g. a document you wrote, a recording you made, etc.), the copyright is yours. In some instances, particularly if the creator/author has a contractual agreement, such as a work-for-hire agreement, the copyright ownership may belong to someone else. The Author Rights page provides more information on various matters. The Top Ten Copyright and Fair Use Questions, available on the UCF Office of General Counsel’s website and UCF Regulation: UCF-2.033 Copyright and Works, as well as the UCF Collective Bargaining Agreement provide more information on copyright ownership, rights, fair use and related matters pertaining to copyright for faculty, staff, and if applicable, to students as well.
Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that supports open access licensing practices. Traditional copyright laws restrict sharing while Creative Commons licensing provides a way for the public to quickly and legally share their work and use the work of others.
Sharing Your Copyrighted Work
If you’re interested in allowing others to use your copyrighted work without requiring them to request your permission, Creative Commons offers copyright licenses that make sharing easy without sacrificing your rights as the author. Several types of licenses with different levels of restriction such as “non-commercial use only” are available. Please be aware, however, that you can only legally license your copyrighted work, if you are in fact the copyright owner or have a specific license from the copyright owner that permits you to grant the rights at issue here. In certain situations, UCF will be the copyright owner – please see UCF Regulation: UCF-2.033 Copyright and Works and the UCF Bargaining Agreement. In cases of UCF’s copyright ownership, you may NOT allow others to use the copyrighted work at issue, without UCF’s prior written consent.
Using Others’ Work
Need to use another person’s creative work for a project? Creative Commons licensed work will allow you to use the piece without having to request permission. Be sure to review the license for any restrictions and provide attribution to the creator. However, if you wish to use others’ works that are not subject to a Creative Commons license, please follow applicable copyright law and UCF policies, including the UCF Policy on the Use of Copyrighted Material, as well as the UCF Libraries’ Copyright Policy.
- Search for CC Licensed Works
- Music & Audio Clips with Creative Commons Licensing
- Images with Creative Commons Licensing
Because the following four-pronged test is highly subjective, it is difficult to know whether your application of the test will stand up in a court of law.
- Purpose for Use (is it for nonprofit educational use or commercial use?)
- Nature of the Work (is it a film, article, etc.)
- Amount Used (are you using a small portion of the work or a substantial amount?)
- Effect on Work’s Use on the Market (will it result in the copyright owner potentially losing the ability to profit from their work?)
For that reason, UCF has chosen to adopt the guidelines (set forth under 5.-9. of the UCF Use of Copyrighted Material Policy) rather than to ask individuals to apply the four-pronged test. For more information, please see the UCF Use of Copyrighted Material Policy. UCF Personnel should follow applicable copyright law and the above referenced policy.
For additional resources pertaining to fair use, please visit the UCF General Counsel’s website, but, in reading these materials or the legal resources posted on the UCF General Counsel’s website, please keep in mind that they do not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for, specific legal advice. The resolution of legal issues frequently hinges on slight changes in the facts and circumstances, and your particular situation may well be different from those described in these materials. If UCF faculty and/or staff members encounter legal questions within the course of their employment, including those pertaining to copyright law, the university’s guidelines with respect to fair use, university regulations and/or other official UCF documents, they should contact the UCF Office of the General Counsel. UCF Students should contact the Office of Scholarly Communication at the John C. Hitt Library.