Support Center

Copyright basics

Last Updated: Aug 23, 2017 12:09PM PDT
This list of FAQs provides some general information about copyrights — including how you can avoid infringing the copyrights of others when using Quizlet and how you can protect your own copyrighted works. If you believe someone is violating your copyright on Quizlet, please let us know using our DMCA reporting tool.

Quizlet can't provide you with legal advice, so you may want to speak with an attorney if you have additional questions about copyright.

What is copyright?
Copyright is a legal right that protects original works. In general, if you create a copyrightable work, you obtain a copyright the moment you create it. To qualify, a work must have some amount of creativity.

Copyright protects a wide variety of original works, including books, TV shows, songs, photographs, paintings and many others. Generally, thinks like names, titles, slogans or short phrases aren't considered to be original enough for copyright protection. However, they may be protected under other intellectual property rights, like trademark. Copyright also doesn't generally protect basic facts or ideas — but it may protect specific words or images that convey a fact or idea.

Copyright laws also vary widely between countries. For more information on copyright law in the U.S. and internationally, you can visit the U.S. Copyright Office or the World Intellectual Property Organization websites.

Who owns a copyright?

Usually, the person who creates the original work owns the copyright. For example, if you write a book or take a photo, you generally own the copyright for that book or photo.

That said, there are a number of exceptions to this rule, so you may want to contact an attorney to advise you on your rights if you're not sure about whether you own a copyright to a particular work.

How can I make sure the content I post to Quizlet doesn't violate copyright law?
Quizlet's Terms of Service and Community Guidelines require that you only upload content to our website and mobile apps that doesn't violate the intellectual property rights of another party. The easiest way to help make sure that the content you post doesn't violate copyright law is to only post original content that you've created yourself.

You may be able to use someone else's work on Quizlet if you've gotten permission (for example, through a license), the work is in the public domain or if your user is covered by fair use or some other exception. If you are asking permission from a copyright owner, it's generally a good idea to get that permission in writing before posting content and make sure you follow all of the requirements set out by the copyright owner.

Some content creators choose to make their copyrighted work available for reuse with certain requirements. For example, they may require you give attribution or not modify an image or other content when using it. You can learn more about Creative Commons licenses here.

Remember  it's always your responsibility to make sure you have the rights to use content before uploading it to Quizlet.

Can Quizlet let me know if an image is okay to use?
Unfortunately, Quizlet is not able to determine whether your use of any particular image or any other content is acceptable under copyright law. We also aren't able to help you get permission to use copyrighted content.

You mentioned something called "fair use," what's that?
In some circumstances, it's possible to use a copyright-protected work without infringing the owner's copyright under the legal doctrine known as fair use.

Courts generally rely on four factors to analyze fair user on a case-by-case basis:
  1. The purpose and characters of the use
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work
  3. The amount and substantiality of the copyrighted work used
  4. The effect of the use on the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work
If you have received a DMCA takedown notice and believe content you have uploaded is protected under fair use, you can use that as a reason to file a counter notification. However, please note that Quizlet cannot guarantee that your content will be protected from removal. In addition, the rules in different countries vary for when it's okay to use material without the copyright owner's permission.

Please see our Help Center article on DMCA notices and our policy for submitting a DMCA counter notification for more information.

What is the public domain?
Previously copyrighted works which have lost copyright protection fall into what is known as the public domain, making them free for everyone to use. It typically takes many years for works to fall into the public domain. The Cornell Copyright Information Center has a useful chart about how long copyright protection can last. Certain works created by U.S. federal government agencies fall into the public domain immediately upon publication, and some creators voluntarily relinquish their rights and deliberately place their work in the public domain.

Unfortunately, there is no official list of works in the public domain. Washington State University has compiled a list of public domain sources which may be useful for you, though neither Quizlet nor the university can guarantee that all the works linked to by any of the resources are free from copyright protection or other restrictions.

Someone is violating my copyright on Quizlet, what can I do?
Quizlet is fully committed to protecting the rights of intellectual property owners under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

If you are a copyright holder and believe that content available by means of this website infringes one or more of your copyrights, you can submit a DMCA takedown request to us using our DMCA request submission form.

To learn more about our policy regarding copyright issues, including how to submit a report via email, please see our copyright infringement and DMCA policy.

I received a DMCA takedown notice, what does that mean?
The DMCA requires Quizlet to remove access to study sets that are reported as copyright infringing by a copyright holder or publisher. Accordingly, when Quizlet receives a notice from a publisher claiming that one of your sets was infringing on their intellectual property rights under the DMCA, a Quizlet admin will disable access to that set and send you the notice you received.

For more information, you can review this Help Center article to learn about your options.

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