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Copyright: Copyright Law

Copyright Law Defined

Copyright law, as defined in Title 17 of the United States Code, protects "original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression" for a limited period.

Copyright applies both to traditional media (books, records, etc.) and to digital media (electronic journals, web sites, etc.).

Copyright protects the following eight categories of works:

  1. literary works
  2. musical works
  3. dramatic works
  4. pantomimes and choreographic works
  5. pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
  6. motion pictures and other audiovisual works
  7. sound recordings
  8. architectural works

Ownership of a copyrighted work includes the right to control the use of that work.

Use of such work by others during the term of the copyright requires either permission from the author or reliance on the doctrine of fair use.

Failure to do one or the other will expose the user to a claim of copyright infringement for which the law provides remedies including payment of money damages to the copyright owner.

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Copyright law, fair use, and Creative Commons for faculty, students, and staff

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Creative Commons License Except where otherwise noted, content in these research guides is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.