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Copyright and Author Rights

This guide is designed to provide information about copyright and fair use in an academic setting, and to provide guidance on finding and using materials in in-person, online, and hybrid courses.

Orphan Works

Orphan Works (U.S.)

Orphan Works are those creations where it is difficult or impossible to contact the copyright holder. This situation can arise for several reasons, including works published anonymously or not at all, or works where the copyright has transferred to an unknown relative upon the original creator's death. If a reasonable effort has been made to contact the copyright holder and you have been unsuccessful, then that work could be considered orphaned. At that point, you would need to weigh the benefits of using the orphaned work with the potential cost should an unknown copyright holder emerge. 

For further information on this topic, see the U.S. Copyright Office Statement on Orphaned Works.

International Copyright

International Copyright

The term "international copyright" refers to works created in other countries, which likely have different copyright laws than the United States. It doesn't refer to works created with a copyright that applies in all countries, which at the time of the creation of this guide doesn't exist.

For works created in other countries, it can be notoriously difficult to obtain information about copyright laws. This can be due to language barriers, Internet blockages, or other reasons. Several countries have recognized this issue and gathered to create the Berne Convention, which is an international agreement about certain copyright terms. If you cannot locate the copyright holder's country on the Berne Convention site, then the next step would be to contact them directly to obtain permission. If you are unable to make contact, you may want to see if you can find a similar creation from the United States, or reconsider the amount of the work that you are using (if it can be reduced).

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