Frequently Asked Questions

How does a work become copyrighted?
    A work is copyrighted as soon as it is created.

What is ownership vs. authorship vs. work for hire?
    Ownership - Person or group that has rights to control use of material.
    Authorship - Person or group that created original material.
    Work for Hire - Contractual agreement whereby copyright of work is held by employer or person or entity commissioning the work.

How long does a copyright last?
    Created on or after 1/1/78: The life of the author plus 50 years.
    Created before 1/1/78(Published): 28 years plus a renewal term of 47 years.
    Created before 1/7/78(Unpublished): The life of the author plus 50 years.

How do I get permission to use someone else's work?
    You ask for it. If you know who the copyright owner is, contact the owner directly. Or contact the Copyright Clearance Center on campus @ 737-3978. Or check out our web page on Permissions.

Who has the right to copyright material?
    Generally, the individual creating the materials has the right to copyright them. However, OSU employees are required as a condition of employment to assign intellectual property they develop (unless unrelated to their work assigned or created without using OSU facilities) to OUS. These materials should be copyrighted in the name of OSU, unless OSU has granted waivers or releases of copyright. *

Who has the right to give up copyrighted material?
    The decision to put copyrighted work into the public domain, if the material was developed as a work for hire or was created using OSU facilities or resources, is Oregon State University's. This decision should be made at the departmental level with consultation with the Director of Technology Transfer. **

If the copyright owner charges for permission to use their work, who pays?
    Contact your department. **

What do we do regarding copyright for federally funded publications?
    OSU can copyright publications arising from federally funded research unless the funding grant contains restrictions. *

If OSU only partially funds a project, why does OSU claim ownership?
    Oregon Administrative Rules Chapter 580, Division 43 stipulate that as a condition of employment, OSU employees agree to assign to OSU intellectual property developed using institutional facilities, personnel, information, or other resources. *

What happens if faculty does not follow copyright policy?
    OSU faculty may expose themselves and the University to liability for infringement. In addition faculty may even be subject to discipline in limited circumstances. ***

What will OSU do to enforce ownership of its copyrighted materials?
    Specific action by OSU against an infringer would depend on the circumstances in each case. United States Copyright law describes enforcement options available to OSU. Civil and criminal penalties may be imposed. Civil penalties can include an award of monetary damages up to $100,000 per work infringed or actual damages to include the infringer's profits and the copyright holders attorney's fees, injunctive relief against future infringement and impounding and destroying of infringed copies and the articles used to create them. ***

What do we need to do to use a picture on a web page?
    Permission should be obtained from the individual who took the picture. If the picture is of individual people, you should have them sign model releases for the University's use of their image.****

Does OSU take an active role in protecting web pages?
    Yes, OSU will actively protect its web pages. The degree of the University's aggressiveness will depend on the circumstances in each case. *

Who gets the money if the OSU web page is marketed? Who licenses and assigns royalties?
    The Technology Transfer Office has the responsibility to negotiate licensing agreements. Royalities received by the Technology Transfer Office will be distributed according to OSU policies and/or contractual agreements. *

Do OSU copyright policies need to be updated?
    The policies OSU operates under are those of the State Board of Higher Education, and the Chancellor's staff are in the process of reviewing and revising these policies. See IMD's Section 6.

For more FAQ's URL's, check out

US Copyright Office
      Re: definitions, copies, registration, and how to contact the copyright office.

WebLaw FAQ's by Oppedahl & Larson.
      Re: web pages, email, WAV files, and more.....

*     Additional Information - Contact Technology Transfer Program @ 737-0674.
**     Additional Information - Contact your Department Head or Dean.
***     Additional Information - Contact the University Legal Counsel @ 737-2474.
****     Additional Information - Contact University Publications @ 737-3166.