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Fair Use & Copyright Help
Faculty and students may encounter copyright issues in many aspects of their work. This page provides information and guidance for complying with copyright law in teaching, learning, and scholarship. For additional assistance with copyright questions, email the Scholarly Communications Coordinating Group at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright provides the creators of original works of authorship with a set of exclusive rights to copy, distribute, and perform their works for a limited period of time. Protected works include (but are not limited to) books, plays, music, movies, photographs, paintings, sculptures, digital files, and web pages.
Rights under Copyright
Copyright grants its owner the right to:
- Reproduce the work
- Prepare derivative works
- Distribute copies publicly
- Display the work publicly
- In the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission (e.g., webcasting).
What is Protected by Copyright?
- Literary works
- Musical works, including accompanying words
- Dramatic works, including accompanying music
- Pantomimes and choreographic works
- Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
- Motion pictures and other audiovisual works
- Sound recordings
- Architectural works
What is Not Protected by Copyright?
- Works not fixed in a tangible form of expression (e.g., improvisational unrecorded speeches, performances, and choreographic works)
- Titles, names, short phrases and slogans; familiar symbols or designs, mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, mere listings of ingredients or contents
- Ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts, principles, discoveries, or devices, as distinguished from a description, explanation, or illustration
- Certain works produced by government employees
- Works consisting entirely of information that is common property and containing no original authorship
It is not necessary to publish your work or register your work with the Library of Congress to obtain copyright protection. Copyright protection begins when the work is created and fixed in a tangible form.
Registration does provide notice to others that the work is under copyright and is required before filing a suit in federal court for copyright infringement.
Works created on or after January 1, 1978 are protected for the lifetime of the author plus 70 years.
The duration of protection of works published prior to January 1, 1978 varies based on a number of factors. This chart from Cornell University can help you determine whether a work is currently protected by copyright.
Work for Hire
In a work made for hire, an employer may own the copyright if the work is created by an employee within the scope of employment. The University only claims copyright in specific situations. See the University Intellectual Property Policy for additional information.