It is the intent of Northwest University (NU) that all members of the NU Community comply with the provisions of the United States Copyright Law (Title 17, United States Code, Sect. 101, et seq.). The responsibility for securing written copyright clearance rests with individuals. Members of the NU Community who willfully disregard the copyright policy do so at their own risk and assume all liability.

Process Overview

To determine if a work can be digitized and placed on Discovery or the Online Learning Management System:

  1. Is the work in the public domain?  Items published before 1923 are in the public domain and may be used without restriction.  Some works published after 1923 may also be in the public domain.
  2. Is the work available from the NU Library?  If so, follow the permalink guide to create links to the work.
  3. Does your use qualify under fair use guidelines?  Fill out the Fair Use Checklist to determine if your use is considered fair.
  4. Is there an alternative work available which fills the need?  Search the NU LibraryGoogle Scholar and other sources listed below for alternative works.
  5. If none of the preceding are viable options, you will need to pay for the right to use the work through the publisher or the Copyright Clearance Center. Consult with your department chair or dean to see if funds are available.

Protected Works

These items are protected by the federal copyright law:

It is not necessary for the copyright symbol to be on the work for any item created after 1978 in order for it to be protected by federal copyright law.  Any work is automatically protected by law as of 1978.

Any work that was published prior to 1923 is not subject to copyright and is in the public domain, along with any work that did not include a copyright notice AND was first published before January 1, 1978 (When Works Pass to Public Domain).

 Fair Use

Fair Use allows the use of copyrighted materials with obtaining permission of the copyright holder for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

  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.

Making a fair use determination can be difficult.  Please consult the Fair Use Checklist to aid in making fair use decisions.

Alternative Sources