Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 2)

Copyright Services Rights Review Project

In Fall 2018, Copyright Services began a pilot rights review project of material, mainly images, available through the Digital Collections (DC). The original goal was to research the copyright status of material in the DC and to select the appropriate rightsstatement to submit material to the Digital Public Library of America. We also had a goal of learning what content may be in the public domain. In beginning this project, we were inspired by the work of the University of Michigan’s Copyright Review Management System and the New York Public Library in determining copyright status of items in their collections.

We have had at least one student, and as many as three, working on this project since then. We’ve had a student in high school, undergraduates, law and graduate students working with us. Important skills we look for in a student are interest in copyright, research, and strong writing abilities. We provide training on copyright and how to research rights status to each student.

We ask the students to create detailed research reports on the artists and creators as listed in the DC. Here’s what the students look for and where they look:

Information for the rights review:

  • Who created the work and in what capacity (e.g. individual v. employee)?
  • What type of work are we evaluating?
  • Where was the work created/published?
  • When was the work created/published?
  • Why was the work created (to be used for a private/internal purpose or to be distributed to the public)?

Where they look:

The students access internal and external facing databases within the libraries. They may also visit the collection in person, search for registration and renewal records through the U.S. Copyright Office’s Copyright Catalog and through earlier digitized copies of the Catalog of Copyright Entries, and conduct outside online research on the creators in order to better understand the work they created and their professional lives.

The students also now use spreadsheets to track item level information for each collection.

These two documents (the narrative research document and the excel spreadsheet) will eventually be available for our curators and librarians to use.  

The process can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks, depending on the depth of research needed. We cannot say for certain how long a review will take since the type of content and creators can vary. A typical rights review may involve research into the creator, their employment history, the publication a work was distributed in, a search through copyright registration and renewal files, and determination of public domain status under U.S. copyright law. 

We are undertaking this rights review to provide more complete and accurate information, specifically about copyright for the collections that researchers and the general public can access online. We appreciate the help and support that we’ve received so far. Because copyright creators and rightsholders are important in determining copyright ownership and status, the rights reviews are, where possible, focused on a particular author or creator. To continue to move forward we have requested from our colleagues in the Libraries:

  • Departmental priorities for authors/collections
  • Any known information/resources about the creators, for example:
    • birth/death dates
    • creation dates
    • copyright dates/notice
    • work history

This project has been extremely worthwhile and hopefully others can see the value in the work we are doing. For our students, we are providing meaningful work. The students learn or enhance their attention to detail, research, and writing skills. Additionally, they are able to see a tangible outcome of their work in updates to the Digital Collections or progression for other digital projects within the Libraries.

We have expanded the reviews to include content that may or may not be added to the DC. These additional reviews have varying levels of research and evaluation of status, but it has increased our involvement in looking into rights status for content for our Libraries.

If you are interested in learning more about how to get started with your own rights review project, please get in touch with us.


Additional Materials:

Copyright Review Student Training Manual

Ballinger, Linda, Brandy Karl, and Anastasia Chiu. 2017. “Providing Quality Rights Metadata for Digital Collections Through RightsStatements.Org.” Pennsylvania Libraries: Research & Practice 5 (2): 144–58.


Copyright Services Celebrates Open Access Week 2018

Please join Copyright Services as we celebrate Open Access Week, October 22-26, 2018!

Open Access Week Logo

Paywall: The Business of Scholarship (Film Screening)

Wednesday, October 24 @ 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

As part of Open Access Week, join us for a screening of the documentary Paywall: The Business of Scholarship, a film that focuses on the need for open access to research and science, questions the rationale behind the $10-25 billion a year that flows to for-profit academic publishers, and examines the 35-40% profit margin associated with the top academic publisher Elsevier. After the hour long film, stay for a panel-facilitated audience discussion.

Light refreshments will be served. Sponsored by the University Libraries’ Research Commons and Scholarly Sharing Program Area and the Health Sciences Library.

Who: OSU faculty, staff, and students from all disciplines
When: Wednesday, October 24, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Where: Thompson Library, Room 165 


Open Teaching, Learning, and Research: Making Your Scholarship More Affordable and Accessible through Open Licensing (Presentation)

Friday, October 26 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm

During Open Access Week, join the University Libraries’ Copyright Services to learn more about the benefits and special considerations in making your scholarship and teaching materials openly available. This presentation will provide an introduction to the rights provided to authors under copyright law and review important points of OSU’s IP policy. We will explore the different open license options provided by Creative Commons and discuss how those licenses can be utilized in your teaching and research.

Who: OSU faculty, staff, and students from all disciplines
When: Friday, October 26, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Where: Research Commons, 3rd floor of 18th Avenue Library

Open Access Week Events

Please join Copyright Services at these upcoming Open Access Week events:

Open Access Week: Copyright Trivia 
October 23 @ 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Do you have what it takes to be crowned Copyright Champion? Join the University Libraries’ Copyright Services for a short introduction to copyright workshop, where you will learn the many important ways copyright law interacts with your daily academic life. Then test your copyright knowledge and compete for glory and prizes in the Copyright Trivia Championships! This event is in celebration of International Open Access Week.

Who: OSU faculty, staff, and students from all disciplines
When: Monday, October 23, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Where: Research Commons, 3rd floor of 18th Avenue Library

Register here: 


Open Access Week: Considerations and Benefits of Open Access Scholarship 
October 26 @ 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Join the University Libraries and the Health Sciences Library for a workshop focused on the theme of this year’s International Open Access Week: “Open in Order to _______________________.”

Open in order to: raise the visibility of your research; increase the impact of your scholarship; and increase access to knowledge.

This workshop will cover the basics of copyright and Open Access, including understanding your rights as an author, sharing your research to a broader audience, publishing in Open Access journals, and funding models and support. Participants will also be invited to explore topics of interest in small facilitated group discussions.

Who: OSU faculty, staff, and students from all disciplines
When: Thursday, October 26, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Where: Research Commons, 3rd floor of 18th Avenue Library

Register here:


OSU Open Access Monograph Initiative
October 27 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

The Ohio State University Libraries (OSUL) is launching a new initiative to fund Open Access scholarly monographs in the humanities and humanistic social sciences. OSUL has committed to funding three $15,000 awards a year for five years. Awards will be provided as subventions to participating university presses. To learn more about this initiative and how to submit a proposal, please attend this information session.

Who: OSU faculty
When: Friday, October 27, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.
Where: Research Commons, 3rd floor of 18th Avenue Library

Register here:



Why Should I Care About Copyright?

For folks working in scholarly communications, there are any number of challenges that must be faced on an almost daily basis.  For example, it is a given that everyone in this field has spent at least a few hours refining their two sentence or less stock description of fair use for non-lawyers.  Yet there is one issue that underlies and affects almost every other issue handled by scholarly communications staff:  getting people to care about copyright. Continue reading

Combating Copyright Misinformation

Working in higher education, I have copyright conversations with a lot of very smart people.  These are folks who spend their lives educating others, spreading knowledge and wisdom as a career.  Which is why it’s so surprising when they are deeply misinformed about copyright law.

This often seems to stem from “institutional knowledge” passed down through the years.  Some of this information is incredibly helpful, but an unfortunately large percentage of it is downright wrong.  I have been working with copyright issues for just over a year, and have already heard more myths about fair use than I can count.

Where can folks go for quick straightforward copyright education, without legalese or confusing jargon?  And, most importantly, what sources can be relied upon to provide accurate copyright information?  This post lists out some of the resources that I found most helpful when starting out in copyright, and that can serve as helpful tools in dispelling copyright myths. Continue reading

Moral Rights in the United States

If you follow our blog, you may have noticed moral rights come up in a few of our previous posts (“A Primer on Fearless Girl”, “Theories of copyright”, and “Copyright in Campaigns”).  You may have also noticed moral rights in recent communications from the U.S. Copyright Office.  Moral rights are not often raised in the United States, and with good reason.  Moral rights, as distinguished from economic rights, are given only partial protection under U.S. copyright law.  Here, we give an introduction to moral rights and help to distinguish them from economic rights.

Continue reading

A Primer on Fearless Girl

She’s not even five feet tall, but she has been causing quite a stir.  She is the Fearless Girl statue placed opposite the Charging Bull statue in New York’s financial district.  Her placement has caused a stir, not only for the crowds she draws, but also for the claims of copyright infringement raised by Arthur Di Modica, the creator of Charging Bull.

Charging Bull

Di Modica installed the 7,100-pound sculpture on December 15, 1989.  At the time, financial markets were down and the future of the economy was uncertain.  Di Modica created and installed the Charging Bull as a piece of unauthorized guerilla art, intending it to be a symbol of the “strength and power of the American people”.  The piece was inspired by the phrase “bull market”, which occurs when prices are going up and people are investing in stocks.  The piece became so popular that it now has a permanent home in the financial district, and has been there for almost 30 years.

Fearless Girl

At 50” tall, Fearless Girl, created by Kristen Visbal, is about as tall as your average 10-year-old.  Next to Charging Bull, the 250-pound sculpture looks tiny.  Fearless Girl, commissioned by State Street Global Advisors, an investment management firm known for its efforts to bring more gender diversity to financial leadership.  Installed March 7, 2017 (the day before International Women’s Day), the piece was intended to “celebrate the importance of having greater gender diversity in corporate boards and in company leadership positions.”  Currently, Fearless Girl has a one-year permit from the City of New York to remain opposite Charging Bull.

Copyright Claims Continue reading

The Next Register of Copyrights

Recently, in the House of Representatives, a bill was introduced called the “Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017” to change how the Register of Copyrights is selected.  Why is this position important? Why might the appointment of the Register of Copyrights be critical in determining the future of copyright law in the United States?

History of the Register

Since the appointment of the first Register of Copyrights, Thorvald Solberg, on July 22, 1897, the Register is appointed by and reports to the Librarian of Congress.  The duties of the Register of Copyrights are enumerated in U.S. law, specifically 17 U.S.C. § 701.  These duties include, but are not limited to, advising Congress on copyright matters, conducting studies regarding copyright, and providing “information and assistance to Federal departments and agencies and the Judiciary” on copyright matters.

Why is the Register of Copyrights important?

The Register of Copyrights is the highest-ranking official in the federal government dealing directly and exclusively with copyright.  This position oversees the U.S. Copyright Office, whose mission is “to administer the Nation’s copyright laws for the advancement of the public good; to offer services and support to authors and users of creative works; and to provide expert impartial assistance to Congress, the courts, and executive branch agencies on questions of copyright law and policy.”

In trying to serve these three groups, the public, creators, and Congress, the U.S. Copyright Office encapsulates the national tension over copyright law.  The public – users and consumers of books, music, media, and other creative works – have one set of expectations of copyright law.  Their expectations may include a well-fed and robust public domain, and a simple process for obtaining and utilizing the fair use defense.  The expectations of authors and other creators of works may be very different.  Their expectations may include longer and stricter protections for their copyrighted works, thus keeping the works out of the public domain for a longer time.  Creators may also expect more stringent protection of their works.  Congress can often find itself in the middle of this argument between the public and creators, looking to the Copyright Office, and the Register in particular, for guidance. Continue reading

Using Active Learning to Teach Copyright

What is active learning?

Active learning can “be defined as anything that ‘involves students in doing things and thinking about the things they are doing.’”[1]  This is a stark contrast to passive learning, where “students passively receive information from the professor and internalize it through some form of memorization.”[2]  Incorporating active learning can lead to “higher student cognitive outcomes on specific material covered in a class … as opposed to one taught with the passive teaching approach.”[3]  In addition, “[c]lassroom approaches that engage students in ‘active learning’ improve retention of information and critical thinking skills, compared with a sole reliance on lecturing.”[4]  In short, active learning moves the focus from the instructor’s teaching to the students’ learning and improves engagement, retention, and critical thinking.

The Ohio State University’s University Center for the Advancement of Teaching maintains a list of active learning strategies that can be employed in both workshops and courses.  The listed strategies range from simple (brainstorming) to complex (simulations), providing ample options to suit an instructor’s teaching style.  We encourage including an active learning strategy into a workshop or class to see how it fits with your teaching style.  While the list of potential active learning activities is almost limitless, there are a few that seem to fit particularly well within the copyright context.  Below are a few examples of those activities and how they can be woven into copyright education.

Active Learning in the Copyright Context

In a copyright workshop, Think-Pair-Share can help participants actively engage with the material.  For example, in a workshop for participants developing online courses, give them time to write down up to three works that they would like to incorporate.  Then have folks pair up and share their copyright challenges, and what they think is the most viable solution.  Finally, ask for a volunteer pair to share their thoughts with the group.  At this point, you could open the discussion up to the whole group, potentially teasing out confusion or misunderstandings.  Then make a few closing comments, clearing up any misunderstandings and offering the sharing pair additional thoughts or suggestions.

If discussion seems too passive, or doesn’t fit with your presentation style, have the students get hands-on with the material.  A presentation on fair use might work best with this style.  Break the group into pairs or smaller groups and give them a scenario and accompanying problem to analyze.  If you can contact attendees in advance, have them bring in works they are using, or would like to use, in their teaching.  The small groups can then walk that particular work, or your provided scenario, through the fair use analysis.  This strategy has the added benefits of 1) allowing attendees to get some of their work done in the workshop and 2) ensuring attendees have gone through at least one fair use analysis on their own.

Readers in the U.K. can utilize Copyright the Card Game in their teaching.  If you live in the U.K., it is a great way to gamify copyright education.  Available for download under Creative Commons’ CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0 license, the game “takes delegates from copyright basics through to real world scenarios which explore the relationship between licences and copyright fair dealing exceptions.”[5]  Participants use game cards in four suits (Works, Usages, Licenses, and Exceptions) along with pre-made PowerPoint slides to “work through the scenarios presented.”[6]  While there is currently only a version for U.K. law, the idea of gamifying copyright law is incredibly intriguing, hopefully we will see a U.S. version soon.

What active and creative strategies have you used in your copyright education efforts?  Let us know with a comment on this post.  We would love to hear about your successes!



By Marley C. Nelson, Rights Management Specialist, Copyright Resources Center, The Ohio State University Libraries


[1] Bonwell, Charles; Eison, James (1991). Active Learning: Creating Excitement in the Classroom. Information Analyses – ERIC Clearinghouse Products (071), p. 3.  Accessed on 3/8/17 via

[2] N. Michel, J. Cater, and O. Varela, Active Versus Passive Learning Styles: An Empirical Study of Student Learning Outcomes.  Human Resources Development Quarterly, vol. 20, no.4, Winter 2009.  Accessed 3/17/17 via

[3] N. Michel, J. Cater, and O. Varela, page 64.

[4] President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. (2012). Engage to excel: Producing one million additional college graduates with degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Retrieved from on 3/6/17.

[5] Chris Morrison, Naomi Korn, and Jane Secker.  Copyright the Card Game – Instructions.  Copyright 2015 by Chris Morrison, shared via CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0 license.

[6] Id.

A Fair Use Week Interview with John Muir

At the Copyright Resources Center, our job is to help members of the Ohio State community understand copyright law and how it affects their work.  This week, we are focusing on Fair Use – because it is Fair Use Week!  If you’d like an introduction to Fair Use Week, check out our earlier blog post for a quick rundown of Fair Use and why we spend an entire week celebrating it.

For Fair Use Week 2017, we wanted to educate ourselves on how Fair Use affects some of our closest clients.  In particular, I spoke with John Muir, a veteran Instructional Designer (ID) who helps design awardwinning online courses for The Ohio State University.  He has almost a decade of experience designing online courses, with the last four years spent in the Office of Distance Education and eLearning at OSU.  As an ID, John not only counsels faculty on designing online educational experiences, but also assists them with populating those online classrooms with content. It is the content piece that has John in frequent communication with the Copyright Resources Center.  John sat down with me to talk about how Fair Use impacts his work as an Instructional Designer.

Continue reading

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