“What is copyright?”
Copyright is a form of protection given authors of “original works of authorship.” Both published and unpublished works are protected. Ownership of copyright allows the owner broad, exclusive rights to this work. Basically, these rights allow the owner to:
- reproduce or copy the work
- prepare derivative works based on the copyrighted work
- distribute the work to the public by sale, rental, lease, or loan
- perform the copyrighted work publicly
- display the copyrighted work publicly
Copyright Basics (U.S. Copyright Office)
Copyright law of the United States of America : contained in Title 17 of the United States Code. Washington, D.C. : Copyright Office, Library of Congress. Pickler Library call #: Reference KF 62 1994 A2
“What is protected by copyright?”
Copyright is designed to protect fixed, original works. Anything which has a physical form, such as a recording, sculpture, Web site, etc. can be protected by copyright. A work must also display some form of originality and creativity. Facts and ideas are not protected by copyright, but a listing of facts may be protected if it displays originality in selection. Thus, a simple alphabetical phone book is not protected since an alphabetical listing does not exhibit a minimal level of originality or creativity. (see Feist Publications, Inc. v. Rural Telephone Service Company, Inc., 111 S.Ct. 1282 (1991))
“When is a work copyrighted?”
Copyright protection begins when a work is fixed in a tangible medium of expression. A work is “fixed” when it is stable enough to permit it to be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated for a period of more than transitory duration.
“Are there any exceptions?”
Some works are part of the public domain and are no longer subject to copyright protection. Public domain status is determined by the date a work was created or published. See below for more details on duration. U.S. Government publications are also in the public domain. However, this only applies to works created within the scope of the government agency, and contracted works may or may not be in the public domain. Further, the opinions of state courts are public domain, but state and local governments may copyright their works.
Visit this site by the Campus Guide to Copyright Compliance in order to get a further Breakdown of Public Domain.
Libraries and Education
In accordance with several Acts affecting the U.S. Code Title 17 on copyright, certain exceptions apply to libraries and educational instruction. See the © Laws & Policies section for specifics on the laws, or visit the © for Instructors and © for Students sections for interpretations and examples on using copyrighted material.
“How long does copyright last?”
For works created after 1/1/1978, copyright lasts 70 years after the author’s death. Works created before 1/1/1978 and still in their first renewal term are protected for 95 years from the date of the original grant of copyright.
The following terms are as described in U.S. Code Title 17.
architectural work: the design of a building as embodied in any tangible medium of expression, including a building, architectural plans, or drawings. The work includes the overall form as well as the arrangement and composition of spaces and elements in the design, but does not include individual standard features
audiovisual works: works that consist of a series of related images which are intrinsically intended to be shown by the use of machines or devices such as projectors, viewers, or electronic equipment, together with accompanying sounds, if any, regardless of the nature of the material objects, such as films or tapes, in which the works are embodied.
collective work: a work, such as a periodical issue, anthology, or encyclopedia, in which a number of contributions, constituting separate and independent works in themselves, are assembled into a collective whole.
compilation: a work formed by the collection and assembling of preexisting materials or of data that are selected, coordinated, or arranged in such a way that the resulting work as a whole constitutes an original work of authorship. The term “compilation” includes collective works.
copies: material objects, other than phonorecords, in which a work is fixed by any method now known or later developed, and from which the work can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.
copyright infringement – when a copyrighted work is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed, or made into a derivative work without the permission of the copyright holder.
derivative work: a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, editorial revision, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted.
fixed: when a work in a tangible medium of expression embodiment is sufficiently permanent or stable to permit it to be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated for a period of more than transitory duration.
phonorecords: material objects in which sounds, other than those accompanying a motion picture or other audiovisual work, are fixed by any method now known or later developed, and from which the sounds can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.
pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works: two-dimensional and three-dimensional works of fine, graphic, and applied art, photographs, prints and art reproductions, maps, globes, charts, diagrams, models, and technical drawings, including architectural plans. Such works shall include works of artistic craftsmanship insofar as their form but not their mechanical or utilitarian aspects are concerned; the design of a useful article shall be considered a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work only if such design incorporates pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features that can be identified separately from, and are capable of existing independently of, the utilitarian aspects of the article.
publicly: to perform or display at a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered; or to transmit or otherwise communicate a performance or display of the work to a place specified by clause (1) or to the public, by means of any device or process, whether the members of the public receive it in the same place or in separate places and at the same time or at different times.
sound recordings: are works that result from the fixation of a series of musical, spoken, or other sounds, but not including the sounds accompanying a motion picture or other audiovisual work, regardless of the nature of the material objects, such as disks, tapes, or other phonorecords, in which they are embodied.
work of visual art: a painting, drawing, print or sculpture, existing in a single copy, in a limited edition of 200 copies or fewer that are signed and consecutively numbered by the author, or, in the case of a sculpture, in multiple cast, carved, or fabricated sculptures of 200 or fewer that are consecutively numbered by the author and bear the signature or other identifying mark of the author; or a still photographic image produced for exhibition purposes only, existing in a single copy that is signed by the author, or in a limited edition of 200 copies or fewer that are signed and consecutively numbered by the author.
A work of visual art does not include any poster, map, globe, chart, technical drawing, diagram, model, applied art, motion picture or other audiovisual work, book, magazine, newspaper, periodical, data base, electronic information service, electronic publication, or similar publication; any merchandising item or advertising, promotional, descriptive, covering, or packaging material or container; any portion or part of any item described in clause (i) or (ii); any work made for hire; or any work not subject to copyright protection under this title.