Take home message: Copyright is a form of legal protection that allows authors, photographers, composers, and other creators to control some reproduction, distribution and use of their work. When we use the work of others, we must ensure we respect their rights and use their work lawfully; and when we act as a conduit for information (such as through our IT infrastructure) or host or facilitate access to information, we must do what we can to make sure we are not implicated in any copyright infringement by other people.

U-M Policy and helpful links

Things to remember

  • Whether you are an author, a professor, or a student, many occasions will arise when you want to use the copyrighted works of others. It is crucial that you know how to determine whether a work is copyrighted, what fair use means, and how to work out whether permission is required to use something: see the Copyright Office Website for details.
  • If you are involved in teaching, make sure you understand the legal limits of how you can and cannot use or hand out materials in your classes. The Copyright Office page on using copyrighted materials includes many FAQs related to classroom use of materials. You can read more on the sites recommended by the Copyright Office on their links page. The Campus Legal Information Clearinghouse, hosted by the Catholic University of America, also has an extensive set of resources on copyright.
  • If you share files with others, make sure you understand what is lawful and what is not. For instance, using peer-to-peer (P2P) technology is not in itself illegal, but what you share and how you share it may be.  When you upload or distribute copies of copyrighted works OR when you download or acquire unauthorized copies of copyrighted works, you may be infringing someone else’s rights – and could suffer real consequences if you are caught. Peruse the resources on the U-M Digital Copyright Compliance site and on the U-M Copyright Office site about file sharing for guidance.
  • It is important that the University respond quickly to any allegations that it has violated someone else’s copyright. If you receive an allegation that we have infringed copyright through digital media, or a notice requesting that certain copyrighted content be removed from our web site, forward it to U-M’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) agent ( – that will ensure that the allegation is handled, and any infractions are remedied, through U-M’s established procedure. For non-digital copyright infringement allegations, contact Jack Bernard in the Office of the General Counsel.

People to talk to

The U-M Copyright Office is always available to answer questions about copyright – e-mail them, or call them on 734-764-9356, or drop by during their open consultation hours.

U-M Dearborn and U-M Flint faculty and staff are always welcome to contact the Ann Arbor Copyright Office; but in addition, the Mardigan Library at U-M Dearborn provides links and resources relating to copyright for the Dearborn campus.

For potential violations of copyright by the University, including on U-M web sites, contact the University’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) agent (

For legal assistance or advice relating to copyright, contact Jack Bernard in the Office of the General Counsel.

Established 3/4/11, last updated 3/1/17 – Contact us if you believe any information is incorrect or outdated