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Follow these steps to determine whether you need to get copyright permission in order to reproduce, distribute, modify, display, or perform a particular work. In addition, please consult sections 14 through 28 of this guide for more specific information. 

  1. Is the work subject to a license agreement? Check the item itself and any accompanying documentation.
  2. If the work is not subject to a license agreement, is it in the public domain? See section 6 of this guide, “When Works Pass into the Public Domain.” Works in the public domain have no copyright restrictions.
  3. If the work is not in the public domain, has permission for your intended use already been granted by the copyright owner?

If you wish to post a journal article in the learning management system, for example, check the copyright page of the journal issue/volume, or the publisher’s website, to see if the publisher has already granted permission for educational uses such as this.

If you are the author of a journal article, visit to determine whether the publisher automatically grants permission for your use.

Documents marked with the following symbols automatically grant permission for certain uses. For more information, see

Creative Commons - Some Rights Reserved    PD

  1. If the work is not in the public domain, is your intended use justified by Fair Use? See section 7 of this guide, “The Fair Use Exemption.”
  2. If none of the above applies, is there a particular copyright exemption given in the law, applying to your intended use? These exemptions are described in sections 14 through 28 of this guide.
  3. If none of the above applies, you must get permission from the copyright holder. See section 9 of this guide, “How to Get Copyright Permission to Use a Work.”