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Faculty Resources: Copyright for Educators

Resources for faculty on databases, print and e-collections, instruction, research, citation management, digital objects, and library services.


Copyright Clearance Center

Copyright Terms and Duration

How long does copyright last? Copyright duration can depend on a variety of factors. Below are a few guidelines and tools to help you determine whether or not a work is still protected under copyright.

Expansion of U.S. Copyright Term

The United States has expanded the U.S. Copyright Term six times since it was enacted in 1790, so the duration of copyright on the work will depend on when it was created. The chart below should help to sort out how long the copyright duration will last based on the year the work was created.

Duration of Copyright Term in Years based on Acts of 1790, 1831, 1909, 1962-1974, 1976, and 1998










©2008 Tom Bell  

Public Domain or Copyright Protected (by year of creation): The American Library Association's Digital Copyright Slider below can help you determine whether or not a work is in the public domain or covered by copyright based on the date of first publication.

Digital Copyright Slider

International Public Domain: The Public Domain Calculator below can help you to determine whether or not a work created outside of the U.S. falls within the public domain of use.

Out of Copyright: Public Domain Calculator

Copyright Renewal: In some circumstances or time periods, the copyright of a work may have been renewed. To find out more about copyright renewal and to search Stanford's Copyright Renewal Database, follow the link below.

Stanford's Copyright Renewal Database

Public Domain

Copyright Term and Public Domain

Public Domain Flow Chart and Handbook (University of California)

(Adapted from WSU Ablah Library, 2016)


The Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act (TEACH Act) was enacted in 2002 as an amendment to Section 110(2) of the Copyright Act. As in the case of fair use, the TEACH Act allows for exceptions to copyright law. "It allows displays and performances of copyrighted works to be transmitted and used for instructional purposes, without permission of the copyright holder, if numerous conditions are met. It complements the so-called 'face-to-face teaching' exception in the copyright law that allows educators to display and perform any copyrighted work - movies, videos, poems - in the classroom without permission of the copyright owner" (Ashely, 2004).

Ashley, C. L. (2004). The TEACH Act: Higher education challenges for compliance. Educase: Center for Applied Research 2004(13), 1-11. Retrieved from

Library Assistance

Librarians cannot offer legal advice, but we can assist in finding resources that may help in answering your copyright and intellectual property questions.

Some questions or scenarios that you may want to consider gathering more information on, consulting with a librarian, or seeking legal counsel:

  • Before posting URLs (links) to content in a course management page, or uploading documents
  • Before signing a publication agreement (book, chapter, journal article, etc.)
  • Before showing a video in a class or uploading to a website
  • Before copying materials that you (or the institution) doesn't own and distributing in class
  • Before using images on a website, social media, course management, or in a presentation

Please contact for general questions or Rhonda Huisman, Director of University Library Services (