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Scholars Archive User Guide

This guide will help users of OSU's Institutional Repository, ScholarsArchive@OSU, deposit and manage their content.

License & Rights Statement FAQ

► Why is there information in a record about both rights and licenses? Aren’t those the same thing?

Although both copyright status (indicated by Rights Statement) and licenses can impact how you can use a work, they are different. Copyright is a bundle of exclusive rights that adhere to an author when they fix a creative expression in a tangible medium (e.g. when you write your thesis or record your performance on video). A protectable work is either in copyright or not. Works not protected by copyright are in the public domain.

Apart from specific exemptions in the Copyright Act (the broadest of which is fair use), one must get permission before reproducing, distributing, displaying, or modifying someone else’s copyrighted work. However, one does not need permission if permissions are already granted through a license. Licenses can be for one specific use or negotiated collectively. Creative Commons is a form of licensing that gives users permissions to use your work, under the conditions of your choice.


► How can a work under copyright also have a Creative Commons license?

Licenses sit on top of--rather than replace--copyright. A creator can apply a Creative Commons license to their copyrighted work. This lets re-users know that the creator is waiving some default copyright restrictions while requiring compliance with certain terms (such as attribution).  Only CC0 (dedicating a work to the public domain) removes all terms attached to re-using a work.


► What should I do if an item says “copyright not evaluated” and I want to use the item?

Libraries and archives often digitize large collections and aren’t always able to analyze each item to assign more granular copyright information. It is up to you to determine how and if you can reuse an item. See the Terms of Use for ScholarsArchive@OSU and Copyright@OSU guide for more information about fair use, the public domain, and other concepts that influence this determination. If you need assistance with this, please contact Oregon State University Libraries’ copyright specialist: stefanie.buck@oregonstate.edu


► When I am depositing a work, should I select a license and a rights statement?

  • If you are the copyright owner--that is, you are one of the creators of the work and you have not assigned the copyright to another entity (like a publisher)--we suggest that you do both. Select a Creative Commons license to apply to your work using the Creative Commons license chooser. For the rights statement, select “In Copyright” or choose “No Copyright” if the item is in the public domain.
  • If you are not the copyright owner and you are depositing a work on someone else’s behalf, do not choose a Creative Commons license. Select “In Copyright” or choose “No Copyright” if the item is in the public domain.

Need assistance with licensing and rights statements?

Please contact: stefanie.buck [at] oregonstate.edu