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Copyright Materials

What You Need to Know About Copyright

1. Copyright is immediate and omnipresent. In other words, as soon as a work is created and fixed in a medium of expression - written on a page, posted to the web, etc. - it is protected by copyright.

2. Copyright lasts a long time. Copyright protection can last for decades after the original author has died. It can be a bit tricky to figure out when copyright expires but as a rule of thumb works created before 1923 are generally no longer protected by copyright. Once copyright expires works enter the public domain where anyone can use them. New works generally enter the public domain 70 years after an author has died.

3. Some things aren't subject to copyright. Ideas, facts, short phrases, government works, and works created before 1923 are generally not covered by copyright and may be used by anyone.

4. Copyright law recognizes the special nature of educational use. Fortunately, since copyright is all about promoting the expression of new ideas, copyright law protects academic instruction with several important exceptions.

Copyright protects certain kinds of "original works of authorship"--whether published or unpublished. Copyright grants the author of the work the legal right to determine how or whether the work will be reproduced, distributed, displayed, or performed, as well as the right to produce derivitive works based on the original.

Copyright protects works " fixed in any tangible medium of expression" in these categories.
*literary works
*musical works, including any accompanying words
*dramatic works, including any accompanying music
*pantomines and choreographic works
*pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
*motion pictures and other audiovisual works
*sound recordings
*architectural works
*computer programs

What is "fair use"?
Copyright law allows portions of a copyrighted work to be used without the author's permission for specific purposes. Such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.

There are four factors involved in "fair use". When these four factors are weighed against one another, they indicate whether or not a work can be used withour copyright holder permission.

1. What is the purpose of the use?

2. What is the nature of the work?

3. How much of the work will be used?

4. What is the effect upon the market or potential market?

Copyright Websites

United States Copyright Office

American Library Association Copyright Tools

Stanford University Copyright and Fair Use

North Carolina State University Copyright Instruction

Copyright Advisorary Resources


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