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Copyright Compliance in Mayo Student Coursework and Staff-Development: Step 1: Is Permission Even Needed?

To assist Education Staff and Faculty avoid copyright infringement in their support of Mayo's Education mission.

Step 1: Do you need permission?

This guide is to help Mayo staff and students determine the permissions needed for making or distributing paper copies, PDF's or Mayo library related links for educational use at Mayo. This guide will take users through a 3 step process to determine if copyright permission is needed:

  • Step 1: exceptions for asking for permission
  • Step 2: the Fair Use Balance Test
  • Step 3: how to request permission when exceptions and Fair Use do not apply

Step 1: Exceptions

Sometimes permission is not needed to distribute copyrighted or licensed materials for students or staff education at Mayo.  For instance, if any one of the following 4 categories applies to the material being considered then permission is not needed. 
(Note: An author who wishes to use their published material must still follow these steps to determine if the material can be duplicated for educational use without seeking permission from the publisher.)


1) If the Mayo Clinic Libraries provide online access, simply use a persistent link to the article or chapter.  To find out if it is online go to Is My Article Available Online, type in the journal name, volume number, issue number and start page number.   If the second line states "Full Text Available via publisher" you may post the article's persistent link to a Mayo intranet page.  Contact the Library for assistance in creating a persistent link.  

2) If Mayo Clinic holds the copyright to the materials.When Mayo Clinic retains copyright, you can link or post the PDF on an intranet site or email the PDF or persistent link but only to Mayo Clinic students and staff. 

  • Articles: Mayo Clinic holds the copyright to Mayo Clinic Proceedings, and to many Oxford University Press articles, as well as some articles in Chest, BMJ, and Elsevier journals.  

  • Books with a single Mayo author or all Mayo authors are copyrighted by Mayo Clinic. Exceptions occur when the book is part of a series owned by the publisher or is sponsored by a professional society.  Email Section of Scientific Publications, with a subject line: "Copyright".

 3)  If the material is Open Access or Public Access.  Open Access articles are provided by copyright holders who generously allow wide distribution to all users. Public Access is mandated for NIH funded research articles 12 months after publication. Reproduction in any medium is allowed and encouraged provided the original author and source are credited.   Thousands of Open Access and Public Access articles are available full text via these free databases

  • DOAJ, (Directory of Online Access Journals) DOAJ

  •  (also includes "Public Access" i.e., NIH funded research articles 12 months after initial publication)PubMedCentral

  • Biomed (Look for Open Access)

  • Check out this subject guide for more information: Public Access Journals

 4) If the material was published before 1923 in the United States then it is not covered by copyright law and may be used without restriction for educational use.  Copyright does apply to subsequent editions published after 1923.

If none of these apply go to Step 2: Fair Use Balance Test

Matt Hoy, MLS

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Matt Hoy
Plummer Building
Rochester, MN

Category 1 Use

Category 1 materials can be freely provided each semester via persistent links on Mayo Clinic websites or email without requesting permission.  (You may use only links, and not the PDF.)
Instructions for creating persistent links to Mayo Library materials

Categories 2, 3 and 4

Category 2, 3 or 4 materials can be freely provided each semester for classroom or staff development  by link, PDF or multiple paper copies. (No permission needed.)

Mayo Support of Copyright

The Mayo Clinic Legal Department has information on copyright compliance at Mayo Clinic.


Through Office of Medical Industrial Relations  H - Copyright  Mayo is considered to be the author of publications written by its staff.