I want to assign an unpublished work.

Unpublished works are copyrighted. According to 17 U.S.C. Sec. 301, unpublished theses, dissertations, stories, poems, images, films, sound recordings, etc. enjoy the same copyright protection as published works. Also, all users of unpublished works, even those users in educational settings, must comply with "donor agreements" which often accompany unpublished sources.

Start by:

Providing the full citation the style that you prefer your students to use—for the work that you have selected.  For example (in APA style): Angelou, V.M. (2006). Music For All Species. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT. Or see "Citing What You Find." (To comply with the TEACH ACT, all materials must be fully cited each time you assign or use them.) Add a copyright notice, © 2006 Van Muse Angelou, and a disclaimer like this one:

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the reproduction of copyrighted materials. Under certain conditions specified in the law, university libraries and archives are authorized to provide reproductions. One of these specified conditions is that the reproduction be used for academic study, scholarship, or research only. This material has been made available solely for use in this course. The material may not be distributed to any person outside this class, electronically or in paper form without specific permission from the copyright holder. If you use a reproduction for purposes in excess of fair use without permission, you may be liable for copyright infringement. Further, circumvention of technological protection measures (Section 1201) is against the law.


Check to see if the work is in the public domain:

This excerpt from the Government Copyright page http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html#uw offers clear definitions:

Works Originally Created on or after January 1, 1978

A work that is created (fixed in tangible form for the first time) on or after January 1, 1978, is automatically protected from the moment of its creation and is ordinarily given a term enduring for the author's life plus an additional 70 years after the author's death. In the case of "a joint work prepared by two or more authors who did not work for hire," the term lasts for 70 years after the last surviving author's death. For works made for hire, and for anonymous and pseudonymous works (unless the author's identity is revealed in Copyright Office records), the duration of copyright will be 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter.

Works Originally Created before January 1, 1978, But Not Published or Registered by That Date

These works have been automatically brought under the statute and are now given federal copyright protection. The duration of copyright in these works will generally be computed in the same way as for works created on or after January 1, 1978: the life-plus-70 or 95/120-year terms will apply to them as well. The law provides that in no case will the term of copyright for works in this category expire before December 31, 2002, and for works published on or before December 31, 2002, the term of copyright will not expire before December 31, 2047.

Or, Check to see if there is a Creative Commons or other use agreement

  • Look to see if the author has provides specific futher-use instructions.
  • Check the Creative Commons Search site.


Assuming any "donor agreements" have been heeded, proceed as you would for a published work. Classrooms.

For assistance

Trevor West, Library Assistant - Acquisitions, twest@wesleyan.edu, ext. 3829 (to ask the library to purchase a book) 
Library Reference Desk reference@wesleyan.edu, ext. 3873
Interlibrary Loan Office Ill@wesleyan.edu, ext. 3876 (for help finding a book outside the Wesleyan libraries)
Allynn Wilkinson, Digitization Specialist, awilkinson@wesleyan.edu, ext. 4954 (for questions on digitization)
Eunjoo Lee, Access Services Librarian, elee01@wesleyan.edu, ext. 3454 (for questions about the e-reserve system or the Copyright Clearance Center)

For more information

United States Copyright Office http://www.copyright.gov/
The Teach Act Toolkit: NCSU Libraries http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/scc/legislative/teachkit/
Copyright on Campus http://www.copyrightoncampus.com/
Education World http://www.education-world.com/a_curr/curr280e.shtml
Internet Archive http://www.archive.org/texts/bookmobile.php#thebookmobile
Project Gutenberg http://www.gutenberg.org/
CCC's Using Course Management Systems http://www.copyright.com/media/pdfs/Using-Course-Management-Systems.pdInternet Public Library: Bookshttp://www.ipl.org/div/books/
Russell, C. (2004) Complete Copyright, An Everyday Guide for Librarians. American Library Association.
Stim, R. (2004) Getting permission, how to license & clear copyrighted materials online & off. Berkeley, Nolo
Butler, R. P. (2004). Copyright for teachers and librarians. New York, Neal-Schuman Publishers.
Crews, K. D. (2000). Copyright essentials for librarians and educators. Chicago, IL, American Library Association.
Vaidhyanathan, S. (2001). Copyrights and copywrongs: the rise of intellectual property and how it threatens creativity. New York, New York University Press.


Copyright Management Center http://www.copyright.iupui.edu/fuscenarios.htm