You have probably seen this symbol and know it is the copyright symbol. Just what does that mean and how is it relevant to your research paper? Copyrighted material is owned by someone and no one else may use it without permission from the owner. All published and unpublished materials are protected by copyright, whether you see this symbol or not.
You already know that you have to cite your sources and give credit to the author. Does this mean that you also have to ask the author for permission to refer to his work in your paper? Fortunately, in this case, the answer is no. Fair Use laws say that you can use small portions of another person's work, without asking permission. However, you must still acknowledge your source by citing it, and you must never profit from using this material, or cause harm to the owner by using it.
For more information about copyright issues, check out our online Copyright Center which can be accessed from the Services menu on the library homepage. It contains a wealth of information about copyright, including the Bellevue University Copyright Policy, many feature articles on the subject, examples, links to other sources of information, FAQs, even a quiz to check your knowledge,
Copyright is a complicated issue and even experts don't always agree on the details. Educational use, fair use, expired copyrights, public domain, intellectual property, and the internet are all factors that play into it. Just remember, it is the law and there can be stiff penalties for copyright infringement.
For more information, see these websites: