/ Computing and Information Technology

Copyright Guidelines


This statement contains guidelines for those responsible for creating web sites and digital replications of information and/or images at Hope College.

The College retains the right to remove any information and/or images that may represent a violation of copyright.

The majority of information and/or images that are available on the web, books, journal articles, etc. are copyrighted. Permission must be obtained from the copyright owner, or authorized representative, before replicating unless your intended use of the information and/or images falls within the legal exceptions of Fair Use. Just because information and/or images can easily be replicated does not mean that you are legally permitted to replicate them.

Items that are definitely copyrighted:

  • Cartoons (comic strips and characters)
  • Corporate logos
  • Digital replicas of artwork

If information and/or images are explicitly noted to be within the Public Domain, they may freely be used, replicated, downloaded and incorporated into other materials without permission. Such information includes:

  • Publications dated 1922 or earlier
  • Works that do not include a copyright notice and were first published before January 1, 1978 [note: a photograph of a painting takes the date of the photograph, not the painting, and is governed under copyright]
  • Most United States government documents
  • Facts

If you are a web information provider at Hope College, it is your responsibility to learn more about copyright.

Useful Copyright Web Sites

Van Wylen Library Copyright Statement 

Fair Use at Stanford University 

U.S. Copyright Office information on Fair Use 

Copyright Clearance Center 

What is Fair Use? Am I the Exception to the Rule?

Regulations explaining "fair use" were created to clarify the conditions under which a person could use copyrighted material. Most of the time, "fair use" governs issues of using small amounts of copyrighted material for a short period of time for educational purposes when the use of the material has no financial impact on the owner of the copyright.

§107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair Use
Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. 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.
The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

-U.S. Code, Title 17, Section 107

Four-Factor Fair Use Test at the University of Texas

Take the test 

This test, created by the University of Texas, is designed to help educators determine whether their purposes and methods fall under the exceptions of Fair Use. It further explains the four criteria of Fair Use outlined in the law. When in doubt, interpret this test very conservatively.

How Do I Obtain Permission?

  1. Determine the owner of the copyright to the material.
  2. Contact that person or company in writing, including the following information:
    1. Describe exactly what you would like to use (e.g. a logo, an image from their book, etc.)
    2. Describe exactly how you would obtain it (e.g. copy the logo from their web site (URL), scan the image from the text with a scanner)
    3. Describe how it may be modified from its original format (e.g. cropped, resized)
    4. Describe how it will be used (e.g. image placed on an Internet web site)
    5. Describe your purpose for using it
  3. Ask the person to respond in writing with statements describing:
    1. their understanding of the intended material, method, distribution and purpose
    2. their ownership of the copyright or ability to authorize replication of the material
    3. their permission for you to use the material in the manner you described
    4. their signature, title, address and telephone number

If you receive oral permission, document the conversation carefully. Send a confirming letter to the owner, asking him/her to initial it and return it to you if it accurately reflects your agreement.

Any permission statements should be retained.