TDNet Discover

What is copyright?

Copyright is guaranteed under Article I of the United States Constitution. This law gives to an author, creator, or inventor certain rights to their original works. 

Why does it concern me?

If you have ever made a photocopy, emailed an article, reproduced a sound recording, posted a photograph on a web page or any of a number of 'everyday' activities, you have been involved in some aspect of the copyright law. You may even have been in violation. You need to be concerned in the same way you are concerned with any other law - be aware of its existence and be compliant with its provisions. 

Why does it concern the St. Vincent Hospital?

In keeping with the Ascension Health Core Values, this website is an effort to educate, inform, and increase awareness of a very complex and misunderstood set of laws and regulations. All associates act as representatives of the organization and St. Vincent Hospital is concerned that all associates understand and are in compliance with the law. 

What is Fair Use?

According to the U.S. Copyright Office:

"Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair.

  • The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
  • The nature of the copyrighted work
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  • The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work  

The distinction between what is fair use and what is infringement in a particular case will not always be clear or easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission."

Unless you are confident that Fair Use applies, it is best to obtain written permission before using copyrighted materials. 

If it is determined that your use of copyrighted material does not meet the fair use criteria (see Fair Use page) the next step is to contact the publisher to obtain permission for making or distributing copies.  Most publishers include information on their websites. Make sure to obtain written permission.

Remember, hospitals are not considered educational institutions!

Below are tools to assist in better understanding how to determine the "fairness" of a use under the U.S. Copyright Code: 

Fair Use Checklist (provided by Columbia University Libraries)
Fair Use Evaluator Tool

Journal Club or Research for multiple people:

  • If the article is from a subscribed journal or is free, sending the link is the best method of sending. 
  • If the article is one obtained through document delivery (also known as interlibrary loan) contact the publisher for permission.
  • Images and graphics from journals/books subscribed to by the library can be used within the institution.  If it is to be sent out to others for a talk or publication beyond the institution, permission must be obtained.
  • Articles, reports, book sections, music, images, etc. are not to be collected in a repository for access by multiple people.