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Copyright Toolkit

In order to use copyrighted materials in papers and projects, you may need to get permission to do so. The tools listed below can help you determine if material you wish to use is in the public domain, or if a use might be considered a fair use. They can also help you in identifying and locating rights holders and in writing letters seeking permissions to use copyrighted works.

This toolkit was not prepared by an attorney and is not intended to subsitute for legal advice.

Public Domain

Some materials are in the public domain, which means the intellectual property is not owned or controlled by any person or entity. These materials can be used freely, although they may need to be properly cited.

Fair Use

Fair use allows users of copyrighted works the right to exercise without permission some of the rights normally reserved for copyright owners. This concept is used as a defense in a court of law. Determining what might be considered a fair use in court is an ambiguous and uncertain process. These tools can assist you in considering fair use of copyrighted materials.

Identifying and Locating Copyright Owners

Before you can ask permission to use a copyrighted work, you must first identify and locate the copyright owner. These tools can help you with that research.

Sample Permission Letters

These web sites offer excellent examples of copyright permission request letters you can adapt for your own needs.