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Copyright Support

Leather bound books.

Scholarly Communication & Digital Publishing Services (ScholPub) at the University Libraries helps Washington University faculty, students, and staff with copyright issues that connect to research, teaching, and library services.

This frequently involves:

  • Permission and fair use for including third-party content in journal articles, theses, and dissertations
  • Campus film screenings and public performance rights
  • Use of copyrightable content in course materials and the classroom
  • Investigating rights status and assessing disposition of works
  • Identifying and contacting rights-holders
  • Evaluating material for digitization, publication, or inclusion in other projects
  • Help with terms and conditions for publication agreements
  • Support for licensing, Creative Commons, and Open Access
  • Questions about Copyright Claims Board (CCB) notices related to your work for Washington University

Scholarly Communication & Digital Publishing Services offers customized presentations, permissions assistance, help with copyright registration, and individual consultations.

NOTE: The Office of the Vice Chancellor and General Counsel (OGC) manages the legal affairs of Washington University in St. Louis. Scholarly Publishing staff offer general information but do not provide legal advice specific to your situation.

Jump to: Resources | Copyright Registration | Copyright Notice


Contact Copyright Help ( with any comments, questions, or concerns you may have.


The Washington University IP Policy is the mechanism through which works created by University constituents may be made available for public use. It allocates rights, specifies obligations, and outlines steps for compliance. Office of Technology Management (OTM) facilitates the transfer of inventions and discoveries to private companies for the benefit of society while generating income to support research and education.

Information about responsibly using our electronic resources and licensed material can be found on the Responsible Electronic Resource Use LibGuide.

Copyright Registration

In U.S. law, copyright is the legal right to control certain uses of a work in order to maximize its benefits. Under WashU’s IP Policy (§3(b)(iii)), the creator retains ownership of all copyright in papers, theses, and dissertations written as a student to earn credit in University courses or otherwise to satisfy University degree requirements.

Copyright exists from the moment a work is fixed in a tangible medium of expression and persists regardless of whether or not an individual or group (1) includes copyright notice or (2) registers a claim with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Though registration is not required for protection, it does provide several important benefits:

  • Record-keeping Function | Registration establishes a public record of the copyright claim and pins down details about what rights have been claimed (e.g., authorship, the identity of which is important given the general rule of duration – life of the author, plus 70 years). This also provides prima facie evidence of the validity of the copyright (if made before or within five years of publication).
  • Prerequisite for Litigation | One cannot file a lawsuit for infringement until the certificate and original work are on file with the Copyright Office. Moreover, one cannot claim statutory damages or attorney’s fees unless the work was registered before the infringement began (or within three months of first publication). An individual or group cannot sue until after registration and will not receive much in damages for infringements that occur before it is done.

If an individual files an electronic application with the USCO themselves, the fee is $35 (for “single authors who file an online claim for a single work that is not a work for hire”). The processing time for e-filing is generally 3-5 months.

ProQuest also offers a service ($55) that completes all necessary registration steps for students submitting theses or dissertations. If choosing to register copyright on your own, then there is no need to pay ProQuest to perform the same.

Copyright Notice

The use of a copyright notice is no longer required under U.S. law, although it is often beneficial.

Notice for visually perceptible copies should contain all the following three elements:

  1. The symbol © (the letter C in a circle), the word “Copyright,” or the abbreviation “Copr.”; and
  2. The year of the work’s first publication. The year of the compilation or derivative work’s first publication is sufficient for compilations or derivative works incorporating previously published material.
  3. The name of the owner of the copyright in the work.
    Example: © 2014 Jane Doe
    For more information, see Copyright Notice (PDF).

A further option is to attach a Creative Commons License, which allows you to make clear with greater specificity than the standard “© XXXX Name” language what uses of your work are permitted. Or you might skip the CC system and simply write your own statement on your work, spelling out the uses you wish to permit.