Skip to main content
print page banner

Lichtenberger Engineering Library

Engineering Ethics


Photo credit eryprihananto (

Copyright can be complex and confusing, and people often have questions about how and when to seek permission. This guide will help you explore common copyright issues. In this Copyright guide you will find library resources, fair use analysis tools, information on file sharing, plagiarism, and where to get help.  Please use this guide as a helpful resource during your time at the University of Iowa!

What is copyright?

Copyright is a bundle of rights
The right to reproduce the work
The right to distribute the work
The right to prepare derivative works
The right to perform the work
The right to display the work

Copyright Basics

Copyrighted material can be used in teaching and research under any of the following conditions:

  1. The work in question is in the public domain.
  2. Permission has been granted by the copyright owner or through some other means such as a negotiated license agreement (such as those negotiated with publishers by the University Libraries or the Copyright Clearance Center.)
  3. The use falls within the four “fair use” factors as defined in Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C or falls under an educational use exemption as defined in Section 100 and as amended by the TEACH Act.

Visit the U.S. Copyright Office web site for more basics and FAQs.

Copyright, what's copyright? Song!

Overview of Copyright Basics

This video was produced by TestTube News and provides an overview of copyright and what it includes.

Related Guides

Learn more about Copyright, Fair Use, File Sharing, Plagarism, Author's Rights, Etc at  

Try your hand at these online games related to copyright and plagarism

What is Plagiarism?

Examples of plagiarism:

  • Presenting another person's written or spoken words or ideas as your own

  • Using direct quotes with no quotation marks, paraphrasing without crediting the  source or in some other way suggesting another person's work is yours

  • Copying all or part of another person's exam, homework, etc.; knowingly allowing another student to copy your work or to submit your work as his/her own

Avoiding Plagiarism

  • Students should write their own summary without looking at the original text, but remember to cite your sources.

  • When taking notes, write down the author's name and page number. Put the source information next to your notes so you can easily cite the source.

  • Don’t wait until the last minute to write your paper but rather research, write, and edit your work each day before the assignment is due.

When to Cite

When to cite:

  • Anything that is printed, spoken or sung (except facts or common knowledge)

  • Phrase borrowed from a speaker or writer

  • Images, drawings, charts, graphs, etc.

  • Notes, experiments, surveys, data, lit reviews, interviews, or anything else that is used to create a finished product that is ready for submission