UNF Digital Commons

What rights am I granting when I submit my work to the UNF Digital Commons?

Submitting your works to the UNF Digital Commons does not change your copyright.  You will be asked to submit a non-exclusive licensing agreement to deposit your works.  By signing the license, authors affirm that they have the right to grant the rights contained in the license and that the submission does not infringe upon anyone else’s copyright. If the author has previously assigned copyright to a publisher, the publisher’s permission to contribute the work to the Digital Commons may need to be obtained depending on the author’s agreement with that publisher.


If needed, the library can assist the author in checking on permissions that are normally given as part of each publisher's copyright transfer agreement.  If an author is unsure of their specific agreement with a publisher, they can check this for themselves as well at the Project RoMEO (Rights Metadata for Open archiving) web site. The library can provide assistance on using and interpreting the SHERPA RoMEO web site when needed.


If a working paper is later published (either in the same or revised form), the publisher may require that the paper be removed from the UNF Digital Commons and it is the responsibility of the author to get the publisher to grant an exception.  Many publishers are willing to do this when asked.  It is the responsibility of the author to check the terms of his or her agreement with the publisher. 

Copyright Quick Guide

Determining Public Domain:

Date of Work[1]

Protected From


Created 1/1/1978 or after

When work is fixed in tangible medium of expression

Life +70 years (or, if work is of corporate authorship, the shorter of 95 years from publication, or 120 years from creation)

Published before 1923

In public domain


Published from 1923-1963

When published with notice

28 years + could be renewed for 47 years, now extended by 20 years for a total renewal of 67 years. If not so renewed, now in public domain

Published from 1964-1977

When published with notice

28 years for first term; now automatic extension of 67 years for second term

Created before 1/1/1978 but not published

1/1/1978, the effective date of the 1976 Act, which eliminated common law copyright

Life +70 years of 12/31/2002, whichever is greater

Created before 1/1/1978 but published between then and 12/31/2002

1/1/1978, the effective date of the 1976 Act which eliminated common law copyright

Life +70 years of 12/31/2047 whichever is greater




Determining Fair Use:


Likely Available for Fair Use

Likely Not Available for Fair Use


Non profit

Create new work


No new works


Reference, nonfiction


Fiction, Art



Small portion (relational to the whole)

Complete work

Heart of work


Doesn’t hurt market or original

Hurts market or potential market

UNF Digital Commons Copyright policy

All material in the UNF Digital Commons is protected by copyright.  The copyright holder (author/performer/contributor/publisher) keeps their rights to their works but have agreed to provide a non-exclusive right to distribute and preserve their works electronically.  Materials created cooperatively with co-authors who are not affiliated with the University of North Florida are also accepted if at least one of the authors is affiliated with UNF and the submitter owns the copyright to the material.

The University of North Florida, Thomas G. Carpenter Library will make every effort to contact an author or publisher to gain permission to post a work.  Howvever, if after a good faith effort is made (at least 3 attempts to contact including using email, phone calls, and regular mail) and copyright status remains unclear, the library may post a work into the UNF Digital Commons if it is part of the scholarly output of the university.

Copyright law

According to existing copyright law, works published before 1923 are now in the public domain, meaning they are no longer protected by copyright restrictions and can be freely distributed. Works like Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace can be reproduced without gaining permission from the copyright holder. However, in any current reproductions of the work, anything added to the original manuscript, even new translations, require written permission to redistribute, including to digitize. Because of the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 (aka. Mickey Mouse Protection Act), the copyright on published works expires 95 years after the publication or registration date. So, works published in 1923 will enter the public domain starting in 2019 unless the copyright holder pursues other means of temporarily delaying this transition. There are exceptions to this rule, items published prior to 1978 with no copyright notice, and works published prior to 1964 without a renewed copyright are now in the public domain as well. This provides some leeway as it is estimated that only 10% of copyrights were renewed in total, and only 5% of books and pamphlets. The library cannot digitize trademarks unless it can show that the use of the trademark will not contribute to customer confusion or otherwise “dilute” the trademark.

 Chart showing copyright duration and the Mickey Mouse curve


Copyright laws for unpublished material are slightly different. As of 2002, copyright protection for unpublished documents is split into two categories. If the item was commissioned, it is protected by copyright for 120 years after its creation date. If the item was created for personal reasons, copyright protection is extended for the duration of the author’s life plus 70 years. If there is no death record available, one can assume the item is in the public domain 120 years after the creation date. Under the 1976 Copyright Law, an item created before 1902 with an author who died before 1952 should have entered the public domain on January 1, 2003. However, the Sonny Bono Act pushed these documents back 20 years as well. Instead, items that entered the public domain on January 1, 2003 had to be created before 1882 with an author that died before 1932.


Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Law grants copyright holders five exclusion rights, with the 1995 Amendment adding a sixth. These rights include: the first to reproduce, to create derivative works, to sell, lease, or rent copies of the work, to perform the work publicly, to display the work publicly, and to perform a recording by means of digital audio.[1]


Libraries and non-profit organizations often make use of two sections of the copyright code, Sections 107 and 108 on Fair Use and Reproduction by Libraries and Archives.  Section 107, or Fair Use, allows copyrighted works to be reproduced for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research. There are four determining factors within the law that help determine whether the reproduction of an item is within the terms of fair use. They are: the purpose of reproduction, the nature of the work, and amount reproduced, and the reproduction’s impact on the market value of the original (please see Appendix 4 for Copyright Quick Guides).[2] In particular the teaching, scholarship, and research justifications for digitally reproducing an item are the most pertinent for academia.


Another instrument of libraries to justify digitization of works is Section 108. Limitations on Exclusive Rights: Reproduction by libraries and Archives. Libraries and archives have the ability to reproduce an item with the following limitations: there is no direct or indirect commercial gain, the collections of the library are open to the public and available to anyone doing research in a specialized field, and the reproduction or distribution of the work includes a copyright notice.[3] The library may also duplicate works for preservation, replacement if another copy cannot be obtained at a fair price, or for deposit in another library or archive for research purposes. However, the distribution of the duplicated work is limited to use on the premises of the library and cannot be made available to the general public. Libraries and archives may also reproduce a published work within the last 20 years of its copyright for purposes of preservation, scholarship, or research as long as the limitations mentioned above are met.


[1] “Section 106,” U.S. Copyright Office (accessed 1 May 2010) http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#106.

[2] “Fair Use,” U.S. Copyright Office (accessed 1 May 2010) http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html.

[3] “Section 108.” U.S. Copyright Office (accessed 1 May 2010) http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#108.

Visual Representation of Copyright

For a visual representation of what is in copyright, see this chart:

A chart visually representing copyright status

For a full size version, click below:

Subjects: Library Administration
Tags: copyright, digital commons, institutional repository, selectedworks