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Copyright matters

University of Minnesota Extension

by Neil D. Anderson, Extension Copyright Coordinator, July 2009.
Adapted from 1997 work by Dave McAllister and updated 2000 version by Neil D. Anderson


Copyright Permissions

When Extension Faculty and Educators need permission to use copyrighted materials from sources outside the University of Minnesota Extension, contact the University’s Copyright Permissions Center.

Request use of Extension educational materials should be sent in writing to the Extension Copyright Coordinator, Neil D. Anderson at extcopy@umn.edu .

Copyright Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why do Extension educational materials have copyright?
  2. What is an example of misuse?
  3. What recourse do we have if we see such violations of our copyrights?
  4. Who decides whether an Extension item gets copyrighted or not?
  5. What is the proper copyright notice for Extension materials?
  6. If I'm an Extension author, can my name be listed as the copyright holder?
  7. If I'm an author and I want to include copyrighted material from another source in an Extension publication, how do I do it?
  8. Can Extension staff make copies of Extension's educational materials?
  9. Do Extension staff need to get permission to adapt our own Extension educational materials?
  10. Can I copy something that's current but out of stock in the Extension Store?
  11. What happens if a non-Extension person asks me for permission to copy or adapt an Extension publication that I have written or co-written?
  12. Can non-Extension classroom instructors copy Extension materials for their students?
  13. What about educational materials on Extension's website?
  14. Is the copyright registered somewhere?
  15. What are the rules on copying or faxing non-Extension materials as part of my work?
  16. As an author, if I'm collaborating with a non-Extension person or group to develop educational materials, how do we decide who holds the copyright? Can two or more entities share the copyright for a given item?
  17. Do 4-H'ers need to get permission to use copyrighted music in 4-H skits performed at public events like county fairs and the State Fair?
  18. Web sites containing copyright information

Q1. Why do Extension educational materials have copyright?

A1. Copyright is a form of protection. It gives the copyright owner the right to say how Extension materials are used by others. It helps authors and Extension get the credit deserved when the materials are used. It gives us legal recourse if they are used in ways we didn't intend or don't endorse. It discourages copying in lieu of purchasing if the publication is for sale.

Adding a copyright notice on educational materials and publications is an Extension policy and practice even though any item is considered "copyrighted" as soon as it's produced in tangible form. Adding a copyright notice on Extension’s original work shows that we are serious about protecting our work against unauthorized use and serious about getting the appropriate credit. There is no charge for using the copyright notice.

Q2. What is an example of misuse?

A2. For example, a business that would remove our identifier and replace it with their own and then sell or distribute the material for their own gain. Or an individual who would use some of our material incompletely or out of context, which could result in a liability issue. Unfortunately, we've even seen cases where the name of the original author was replaced!

Q3. What recourse do we have if we see such violations of our copyrights?

A3. The first thing you should do is to contact the infringer and point out that the material is copyrighted. Look for ways to work with them to properly acknowledge our rights to the material and to use it as we intended. Usually a polite, respectful request for cooperation is all it takes. If the University holds the copyright and the above approach does not work, contact the Extension Copyright Coordinator, Neil Anderson ander706@umn.edu to determine a plan of action. Part of the plan may be to escalate the issue to a University of Minnesota attorney to protect our material.

Q4. Who decides whether an Extension item gets copyrighted or not?

A4. All original work is considered copyrighted as soon as it is produced in a tangible form. Adding a copyright notice on educational materials and publications is an Extension policy and practice. The author and project team can include statements on the publication to allow copying of any particular item if there's a reason why a particular item may be or is intended to be copied. An example is material intended to be copied and handed out at an Extension program, such as worksheets.

Q5. What is the proper copyright notice for Extension materials?

A5. If the University of Minnesota will hold the copyright then the copyright notice is: "© (year of production), Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved."

Q6. If I'm an Extension author, can my name be listed as the copyright holder?

A6. Recent University of Minnesota policy now allows authors to hold copyright of their original educational materials. See Copyright Policy: Background and Resource page. This is dependent on the agreements Extension authors have with their Extension and College Units as well as agreements they may have with other publishers.

Q7. If I'm an author and I want to include copyrighted material from another source in an Extension publication, how do I do it? Can Extension then copyright the end product?

A7. First get permission in writing from the original copyright holder. The U of M Copyright Permissions Center (phone 612-624-8258) will handle the request for permission for a small fee per source, or you may contact each source on your own. Either way, find out what credit statement should be use to acknowledge both the material and their permission to use it (if allowed). Extension can copyright the end product, but our standard copyright notice should be followed with a statement like this: "Copyright is claimed for all but (describe the part that isn't original to Extension, e.g., Table 2 on page 4, which is from _____________ and is reproduced with the permission of ______________)."

Q8. Can Extension staff make copies of Extension's educational materials?

A8. If the material is for sale or the author/program team has provided a supply for program distribution then – no. In some cases, machine-made copies are inferior in quality to the originals and reflect negatively on our image. If the author/program team has designed the material to be copied or printed off the web then – yes.

Q9. Do Extension staff need to get permission to adapt our own Extension educational materials? What happens if they do it without prior permission?

A9. Legally, permission is required unless “Fair Use” applies. Extension staff are asked to read and comply with the information in the “Fair Use” document. For example, any adapted or copied items, used in any application, should give credit to the original author. Gross violations (not crediting the author, routinely making copies of materials and distributing them to the public against stated policy, using material out of context, using outdated materials, and the like) will be treated as a management issue by the appropriate supervisor.

Q10. Can I copy something that's current but out of stock in the Extension Store?

A10. Check with the Extension copyright coordinator, Neil Anderson, ander706@umn.edu first. In some cases, temporary copying is permitted while a reprint or revision is in progress. As "owner," the appropriate program team contact/author or Extension Center leader makes the decision. Withdrawn items and previous versions of an item should not be copied and given to the public because they may contain outdated information. Excerpts may be copied for limited use, but it's best to check with the author(s) first to see if the desired information is current. Even out-of-print items are protected by copyright law.

Q11. What happens if a non-Extension person asks me for permission to copy or adapt an Extension publication that I have written or co-written?

A11. If you deem it inappropriate say no and explain why. If the publication lists you as the copyright holder I recommend that you get the agreement in writing. Ask them to send a written request to you and then you can respond. Keep a record of your agreement. If the University holds the copyright and if you deem it inappropriate use then say no and explain why. If you think the use is appropriate then have them send a request in writing (e-mail extcopy@umn.edu) to the Extension copyright coordinator. They should say what they want to copy (or adapt) and for what purpose. The copyright coordinator will check past requests and responses for that item and consult with authors/program teams when appropriate to see if there's a precedent and prepare a letter of response.

Q12. Can non-Extension classroom instructors copy Extension materials for their students?

A12. If these materials are for sale then, the instructor or the students should purchase them from the Extension Store. The copying of excerpts for classroom use may fall under the “Fair Use” (considered on a case-by case basis). But if it is not a “Fair Use” then individual students are charged the retail price. University of Minnesota instructors may buy in bulk at the wholesale price for distribution to their students, with or without charging the students. Classroom instructors outside the U of M pay the retail price for Extension materials.

Q13. What about educational materials on Extension's website?

A13. Many of Extension's educational materials are available on the Extension web site (www.extension.umn.edu) and may be viewed there. A copies of an item may be printed out by the viewer for personal or family use, but making copies for others or profit in lieu of purchase requires prior permission. The intent is for the program teams responsible for the content to be compensated for providing information so more people can be served.

Q14. Is the copyright registered somewhere?

A14. Any item is considered "copyrighted" as soon as it's produced in tangible form. Adding a copyright notice on it is our policy and practice. Extension Store publications are required to have a copyright notice. The University and Extension does not normally register the publication with the United States Copyright Office. The notice we use gives us similar protection at less cost than registering copyright. You can register your personal copyright with the United States Copyright Office http://www.copyright.gov/. Extension does not do the registration nor pay for personal registrations.

Q15. What are the rules on copying or faxing non-Extension materials as part of my work?

A15. Follow the link to information, prepared by the U of M Copyright Permissions Center. The same rules that apply to photocopying copyrighted materials also apply to faxing.

Q16. As an author, if I'm collaborating with a non-Extension person or group to develop educational materials, how do we decide who holds the copyright? Can two or more entities share the copyright for a given item?

A16. Multiple authors and copyright claimants can be listed in the copyright statement. Multiple copyright holders cause exponentially more issues and logistics. If a non-Extension person or entity wants to share the rights to a piece that Extension is producing, there should be a prior letter of agreement signed by both/all parties. The letter should state the agreements between/among the parties as to who will have the right to make decisions about distributing, reprinting, revising, and withdrawing the piece; how the sales price(s) for item will be determined and how any net sales income will be shared; and who should receive and respond to requests to copy or adapt material from the piece.

Q17. Do 4-H'ers need to get permission to use copyrighted music in 4-H skits performed at public events like county fairs and the State Fair?

A17. There may not be any real problem with using copyrighted music in local 4-H skits that are attended mostly by the families and friends of the 4-H'ers on stage, with no admission fee. However, when these skits are brought to larger settings where people pay an admission fee, the copyright holder of the music may decide that the use of his or her music constitutes unwarranted infringement. While the likelihood of a lawsuit is not great, there is at least the strong possibility of a formal complaint by the copyright holder and/or an order to cease using the copyrighted material. To avoid this potential embarrassment and the sudden need to find replacement music, it would be advisable to get written permission before using the music.

Q18. What copyright information is available on the Web?

A18. You can search the Web using the keyword "copyright," but you'll likely get thousands of "hits." Here are some Web sites that are known to offer good general information:

 

For answers to other Extension-related copyright questions, contact the Extension copyright coordinator (currently Neil Anderson in RDU, 405 Coffey Hall, phone 612-625-4261, fax 612-625-3967, or e-mail extcopy@umn.edu).

(See the "University Copyright Permissions Center" for information on the legitimate use of others' copyrighted material.)

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