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Copyright Reminder

Many common campus activities involve copyright, and so it is critical that all Stanford faculty, students and staff have a working understanding of copyright law as it impacts their daily lives.  The Stanford University Libraries provide this Copyright Reminder to ensure that all members of the Stanford community have access to that critical information.  The Copyright Reminder highlights common campus copyright concerns, and outlines the fundamental elements of US copyright law that apply in those situations.

Highlights for 2014

This section calls out issues that have been of particular concern or areas where recommended practices have been revised since the last Copyright Reminder.

Online Learning

Online learning systems, particularly MOOCs, raise a variety of copyright and intellectual property concerns.  Faculty interested in moving courses online should note that, per University policy, and as noted in the Research Policy Handbook, “courses taught and courseware developed by faculty while employed by the University belong to Stanford.”  This means that faculty interested in repurposing course materials in MOOCs and other public online learning systems will require the permission of the Dean of Research.  Faculty or staff interested in offering a public online course should register their interest at well in advance of a potential launch date.  Normally, public courses will be launched once per quarter, subject to various considerations.  

MOOCs and other public online learning systems can also be challenging in regard to reading lists and the inclusion of third-party publications.  A service called  “SIPX”,  developed at Stanford, was designed specifically to support distribution of digital content in an academic setting, legally, easily and cost-effectively.  The SIPX service brings together information about readings of all sorts from a wide variety of publishers, open access and public domain material, subscribed holdings within the Stanford University library system and material managed by outside copyright agents.  Faculty and staff can search the SIPX service to get cost and permissions information for any or all items on a class syllabus, and then make SIPX “links” available to students to access the material.  For more information about SIPX, please visit their SIPX@Stanford website at

Stanford Profiles

The Stanford Profiles in Stanford’s CAP Network ( are designed to automatically pull faculty publications into the profiles in a way that is compliant with both copyright law and Stanford’s licensing agreements with journal providers.  The system also allows you to load publications into your own profile.  If you choose to load your own publications, remember ensure that your posting is in line with your publication agreement, as not all publishers allow authors to post their publications freely.  The Publishing section of this document discusses these concerns in more detail.   


The incorporation of published and pre-publication material in dissertations continues to be a source of questions and discussions.  Faculty and doctoral candidates need to coordinate to ensure publication of the dissertation does not conflict with other publication agreements related to material included in the dissertation.  In addition, doctoral candidates need to be aware early in the writing process that they will be responsible for obtaining permissions for all published and third-party material included in their dissertations.