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DSCI 350M/LIB 350M Humanities Research Data Management

A course guide for Humanities Research Data Management

Ownership and Use of Creative Works

Owning and Using Objects

When dealing with digital objects, one key question to ask yourself is always: who owns this and (how) can I use it?

This section helps you answer this question. Let's start very generally:

Whenever you download an image, a song, a video clip, that object comes from somewhere or, more importantly, someone. You downloaded it, but do you own it? Or does it still belong to the source? This is a matter of copyright.

As a rule of thumb, it is always the creator who owns the copyright to their creation.

Now, say you want to include this downloaded image in a collage. Whether or not you are allowed to do so depends on the license attached to the object. In most cases, creators determine the license for their work. There is a variety of licenses a creator can choose from.

When we're dealing with older objects, it is possible that the copyright of this object has expired. In such cases, the object is in the public domain and is usually licensed for anybody's use.

Sometimes, a copyright holder doesn't respond to inquiries regarding the licensing of an object. Depending on the purpose for which you'd like to use the object, you might be able to claim Fair Use and still be able to proceed with your project.

This section of the LibGuide will walk you in more detail through these various aspects of copyright and licensing. It concludes with a page on resources for further reading and support.