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Faculty Services at the Legal Research Center

Welcome to the Pardee Legal Research Center (LRC). You will be working in the region's premier legal collection and facility when you enter USD's law library. Various library services are available to facilitate your research and add to your productivity.

Copyright Resources at USD

The University of San Diego has information to help you understand copyright and use copyrighted materials in your teaching and research.

Copyright Basics: A general overview of copyright law, especially as it pertains to scholarly and educational activities.

Electronic Copyright Guidelines: How to comply with copyright law when using learning management systems (e.g., Blackboard, TWEN) or the electronic course reserves system.

Still have questions? Email for assistance with your copyright questions.

Need to secure permission? Click for direct access to the Copyright Clearing House (a one-stop shop for obtaining copyright permission)

Copyright FAQs

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 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: If I'm using a small amount of the work, do I have to include attribution to the source?
A: It is important to include citations anytime you use someone else's work, regardless of the amount.

Academic Purposes
Q: I'm using the work for academic purposes, doesn't that mean it is a "Fair Use"?
A: Not necessarily. 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:

  • The purpose and character of the use. Use for educational purposes is favored over commercial use. However, not all educational uses are fair use.
  • 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.
  • The amount and significance of the portion used in relation to the entire work.
  • 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.