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Information related to copyright, fair use, the TEACH Act and Distance Education
Last Updated: Sep 18, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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What is Copyright?

What is copyright?

According to the U.S. Copyright Office, it is:

"A form of protection provided by the laws of the United States for 'original works of authorship, 'including literary, dramatic, musical, architectural, cartographic, choreographic, pantomimic, pictorial, graphic, sculptural, and audiovisual creations. 'Copyright' literally means the right to copy but has come to mean that body of exclusive rights granted by law to copyright owners for protection of their work. Copyright protection does not extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, title, principle, or discovery. Similarly, names, titles, short phrases, slogans, familiar symbols, mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, coloring, and listings of contents or ingredients are not subject to copyright."

U.S. Copyright Office Definitions. (2010, March 16). U.S. Copyright Office. Retrieved from U.S. Copyright Office Definitions

Copyright in the News

Copyright Facts

  • U.S. Copyright Office
    The United States Copyright Office site contains information about topics such as: Copyright in general; Searching copyright records; Factsheets, Brochures, Reports; Policy and Law;, How to register a work; and Information on licensing.
  • U.S. Copyright Office FAQ
    Also maintained by the U.S. Copyright Office, this site addresses questions such as copyright protection, registration, privacy, use, and length of copyright protection among others.
  • Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians
    Published by the United States Copyright Office, this circular highlights the laws and regulations pertaining to the photocopying and fair use of published materials (downloadable PDF).
  • Copyright & Intellectual Property Policies
    From the Association of Research Libraries, this site provides information on Copyright and Intellectual Property Policies, Orphan Works, Fair Use Legislation, Code of Best Practices, Digital Rights Management, Copyright Legislation and Major Copyright Statutes.
  • Know Your Copy Rights
    A guide to using copyrighted material in academia sponsored by the Association of Research Libraries.
  • Copyright Digital Slider
    Available from the American Library Association’s Office for Information Technology Policy. Use the arrow on the right-hand side to determine if a work needs permission to be used or what the copyright status/term is.


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