Respect for intellectual labor and creativity is vital to academic discourse and enterprise. This principle applies to works of all authors and publishers in all media. It encompasses respect for the right to acknowledgment, right to privacy, and right to determine the form, manner, and terms of publication and distribution.

Because electronic information is volatile and easily reproduced, respect for the work and personal expression of others is especially critical in computer environments. Violations of authorial integrity, including plagiarism, invasion of privacy, unauthorized access, and trade secret and copyright violations, may be grounds for sanctions against members of the academic community.

Source: Educom Code, 1987 [incorporated by reference into the University of Iowa Operations Manual].

All students, faculty, and staff should be aware of three related but distinct issues with respect to the use of others’ intellectual property: plagiarism, copyright and fair use, and licensing restrictions.


Plagiarism is presenting the ideas or words of another without crediting the source. It is a form of academic misconduct and may be grounds for academic sanctions. Plagiarism is a violation of University policy. Always remember to cite the sources you use.

Copyright and Fair Use

Copyright is a legal issue and is governed by federal law. Your ability to legally use another person’s work relies on one of the following justifications: (1) the work is in the public domain; (2) you have received permission from the copyright holder; or (3) you assert a right for fair use.

Under the fair use doctrine of the U.S. copyright statute, it is permissible to use limited portions of a work including quotes, for purposes such as commentary, criticism, news reporting, and scholarly reports. Fair use must be determined on a case-by-case basis according to the circumstances of each situation. Individuals are expected to make educated, good faith decisions in determining whether fair use applies in a given situation.

Copyright extends to all forms of intellectual property, including web pages, images, and other works found on the Internet. Online journal articles are also protected by copyright law, just as print articles are.

Licensing Restrictions

In addition to copyright law, most of the University of Iowa Libraries’ subscriptions to online journals and databases are governed by signed licenses; these are legally binding contracts which govern the use of these resources, and individual faculty and students at the University of Iowa are all subject to the provisions of these licenses.

Typically, online journal licenses permit any normal scholarly use of the materials by students, faculty, and staff of the University of Iowa, including printing for personal reading, temporary storage on an individual computer, and quotation with appropriate acknowledgement within the limits of copyright law. They do not permit commercial use without explicit written permission from the licensor or publisher, nor do they normally permit articles to be systematically downloaded, copied or shared with users outside of the University of Iowa. Only some of our licenses permit faculty or staff to make multiple print copies of articles for course packs or to make an electronic copy to mount on a server for use by students in a course. In no case should such copies for course packs be made without first consulting with the libraries’ staff.

You can avoid making a copy of a licensed resource by linking to it instead. Always choose to make links to journal articles and other PDF documents on the vendor’s site whenever possible to avoid concerns over violating copyright law or legally binding licensing restrictions.

Approved by Libraries’ Executive Council, 2/03

Approved by Assoc. Provost, 2/03