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Frequently Asked Questions


I found some works I want to copy and use. It's a big bother to find out who owns the copyright and get permission. If I just copy the work, who will find out? Everyone else does it, why shouldn't I?


At Portland State we respect and value the time and effort that goes into a creative work whether it's our own creative work or someone else's. Infringement of another person's copyright is a violation of federal law. The legal ramifications of infringement include fines that range from $200 to $150,000 per infringement and/or prison.

Portland State faculty and staff members are expected to comply with copyright law and this policy and make a good faith determination of whether an intended use falls within the fair use exemption. Portland State will not assume legal responsibility for faculty or staff members who fail to make a good faith determination or otherwise do not comply with this policy or copyright law.

The Student Code of Honor requires that students comply with copyright law and this policy and that they act responsibly and ethically in applying fair use principles to the completion of their activities and projects. Portland State will not assume legal responsibility for violations of applicable copyright law by students.

Copyright holders such as publishers lose money when works are copied without permission and/or without payment of copyright fees. Publishers can and have sued universities, faculty members and students for copyright infringement. Anyone and everyone who "participates" in the infringement, the faculty member, staff members, students, university bookstores and copy centers, can be sued for copyright infringement and can potentially be held liable for damages.

There are resources at Portland State that can help you find out who owns a copyright and get permission to use their work. Those resources include the Portland State Library, the PSU Bookstore and Clean Copy.
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