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Sisters in the Struggle: Kentucky Women in the Civil Rights Era, 1920s-1970s: Copyright, Rights and Responsibilities

Copyright Quiz

This is a quiz for University of Kentucky students to better understand how copyright works, their rights and responsibilities as scholars and in respecting the integrity of the historical record and creative works.  Many of the questions and answers are derived in part from the UT System’s copyright quiz at


Click here to complete the Copyright Quiz.

Copyright, Your Rights and Responsibilities

Copyright, Your Rights and Responsibilities at the University of Kentucky

Randolph Hollingsworth, Ph.D.


What if ….

·        Your professor likes your class project and wants to use the paper himself in an article he’s going to submit to a prestigious publisher?

·         The best definition of a concept you are writing about in a research paper is in and you can’t think of any better way to write it yourself?

·         Your work on a class project should be published online so other scholars can see what you’ve learned and build on it but you want a future user of the information to at least acknowledge your original work?

·         A picture in a magazine would fit perfectly as an illustration of something you are describing in your blog entry?

·         An old book isn’t available to you from Interlibrary Loan in time but you’ve found a digital copy online?

·         You want to share with a friend your favorite song you listen to all the time from your iPod?


The answers to these questions are derived from basic principles of copyright.  Katherine Adams in UK’s Legal Counsel Office describes copyright in her pamphlet “Copyright Basics” (2007):


Federal law defines copyright protection.  It gives protection to the owners of original works, granting the owner the exclusive right to reproduce the work, to make derivative works, to distribute copies of the work, to perform the work, to display the work, and for sound recordings, to perform the work publicly.  The federal copyright laws create both civil and criminal penalties for violations of an owner’s exclusive rights.   


Copyright arises automatically when a work is first fixed in a tangible medium (e.g., a book, a manuscript, sheet music, film, videotape, microfilm, electronic medium such as a computer or e-mail).  Since 1978, no publication or registration or other action of the copyright office is needed to secure copyright protection, nor must the work be marked with a copyright notice.  This means that copyright protection applies to materials found on the web, even if the materials have no copyright notice and are easily accessible (and copyable) by the world.  Educators and students are urged to use caution in using any material downloaded from the web, and to treat web material just like conventional printed materials.  


As a general rule, someone who uses existing material without permission and attribution infringes the rights of the owner.  So, if you are ready to ask for the creator’s permission to use his or her work, you need to be sure and ask for and get permission in writing.  UK’s Office of Legal Counsel explains:  “While there is no required form, you will want to clearly describe what work you will use, how it will be used, and for how long it will be used.  Typically, you prepare a letter describing the request, and include a space where the copyright owner can sign the letter and fax it back to you indicating that permission is granted for this use.  If you have an e-mail address, permission via e-mail is acceptable.  If the work will only be used in a password protected project, include this fact in your request, since copyright holders are more apt to grant permission to limited educational uses than unrestricted web uses.  Request permission as soon as possible, as some owners will not respond, and it is easier to modify or substitute material at the beginning of a project (UK Legal Counsel, Copyright Basics, 2007).”  In some cases, a third party might be able to grant permission, for example the Copyright Clearance Center (


Your own work is protected also, and you can help others recognize your intellectual property by stating your copyright on the materials.  There is a wide range of use you can articulate above and beyond just marking each webpage or introductory “About This Work” page with a copyright phrase.  For example, the most restrictive and global statement is: “Copyright 2010, Randolph Hollingsworth, History Department, University of Kentucky.”  However, an alternative is to use one of the six different Creative Commons licenses which help explain to the potential user what you intend and how the user might most fairly, ethically and respectfully use your work. See the details about each one of these licenses at

Find out more about your rights and responsibilities at the following websites and then take our quiz to see your results.

Good resources on Copyright and Creative Commons Licensing

·         University of Kentucky Libraries website on Copyright

·         Kentucky Virtual Library’s “How to Do Research” site on copyright and fair use

·        U.S. Copyright Office

·         Lolly Gasaway’s “When U.S. Works Pass into the Public Domain

·         Stanford University Libraries, Copyright & Fair Use

·         University of Texas System’s Crash Course in Copyright

·         Creative Commons

·         Cornell University’s Academic Integrity website, section focusing on student rights.

·         Duke University’s Plagiarism Tutorial and quiz.

If you’re not sure about the research you are doing and you think you may need some help with how the materials can be used, contact a UK reference librarian via email, phone or chat (Ask Us).  For further clarification of the copyright law, please contact the UNIVERSITY LEGAL COUNSEL AT 257-2936.