Skip to Main Content
George Mason University Infoguides | University Libraries
See Updates and FAQss for the latest library services updates.

Copyright Question Framework

A step-by-step approach to analyzing most copyright questions

Begin your research

Welcome to the Copyright Question Framework Infoguide.

Copyright questions can be complicated. Follow this step-by-step guide to narrow down the number of things you need to consider when using copyright-protected materials and to figure out what you need to do to ensure your use is permissible.

Begin with the first question and proceed through all seven.

  • STEP 1 -- Consider whether the work is protected by copyright or is in the public domain
  • STEP 2 -- If you’re the author, ensure you didn’t transfer your rights to a publisher
  • STEP 3 -- Consider whether there is a copyright law exception covering the use you wish to make
  • STEP 4 -- Consider whether the work has been licensed in a way that covers the use you wish to make (e.g., Creative Commons)
  • STEP 5 -- Consider whether the work has been licensed by your institution in a way that permits (or prohibits) the use you wish to make
  • STEP 6 -- Consider whether the use you wish to make is covered by fair use
  • STEP 7 -- Consider seeking permission from the copyright owner