Copyright at NPS

What the Law says

United States Copyright law confers a specific set of rights and privileges to copyright holders, which continue for the life of the creator plus 70 years (or up to 120 years for corporate authors).

Works (such as images, charts, figures, journal articles, book chapters, Web sites, etc.) are most likely copyright protected.  You must evaluate each work (for example each image or figure) as well as your proposed use of that image to determine if your use meets the "fair use" test or if you need to obtain prior permission to reuse the work.  (Note:  The U.S. is a signatory to the Berne Convention and honors international copyrights.) 

A large body of work, typically those published before 1923, is in the “public domain,” and this material is freely available for reuse without first obtaining permission.

If you intend to reproduce portions of a copyrighted work that exceeds or does not meet the "fair use” test (defined below), you must obtain the copyright owner’s permission in advance and document that permission has been granted.

"Fair Use": What is it?

What is Fair Use?

“Fair Use” is an exemption within the copyright law (17 U.S. Code Section 107) that grants you the right to quote or reproduce very small portions of copyrighted materials for educational, non-profit, and personal use without first obtaining permission from the copyright holder.  “Fair use” is not specifically defined; instead, each use is evaluated by weighing four factors:

The following four factors are used to determine if a use is fair:

  1. Character of the use (for NPS, typically non-profit educational use)
  2. Nature of material to be used (non-fiction vs. works of literature, drama, criticism)
  3. Amount and substance of work to be used (up to 10% of whole)
  4. Effect of the use on the potential market (economic impact)

Learn more about Fair Use.

Provost's Annual Copyright Reminder: Use of Copyrighted Materials at NPS

Obtaining permissions: SECNAV instructions

These instructions provide guidance and procedures for obtaining permissions from copyright owners for use of copyrighted materials in the Department of the Navy (DON).

NPS Policy for the Use of Copyrighted Materials

Using copyrighted materials in your NPS work

Did you know...
You are responsible for evaluating your reuse of copyrighted material in your own work.  Is your use fair use or do you require permission from the copyright owner?

If your use does not meet the fair use test, you must obtain written permission from each copyright owner in order to reproduce copyrighted material (published or unpublished) in your Thesis, Dissertation, Joint Applied Project, MBA Professional Report, or other published work. 

You may need to obtain permission to reuse copyrighted material in the classroom and your online course management system (certain exceptions may be provided by Fair Use and the TEACH Act).

Using Copyrighted Materials in your Thesis? What to do BEFORE submission

Plan ahead: obtaining permission takes time

At the time you submit your final signed paperwork for your Dissertation/Joint Applied Project/MBA Professional Report/Thesis to the Thesis Processing Office, you must also supply the original and two copies of the signed and dated permission letter(s) from each copyright owner whose copyrighted material is reproduced in your Dissertation/Joint Applied Project/MBA Professional Report//Thesis. This process can take time, so do start early.

Permission letters will be permanently archived by the Special Collections and Archives Department, Dudley Knox Library, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California.

Evaluate whether or not your use is Fair Use and document that decision!

Acknowledgements Page

Include a statement on your acknowledgements page informing the reader that you have permission to use copyrighted material.  This acknowledgement should include the credit line per the owner’s requirements.

Be certain to list the source of the material in your References Cited section.