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Defines copyright and Fair Use; find Fair Use evaluators, information on Creative Commons.

What is Copyright?

"Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works."

Copyright offers exclusive rights to the creators of expressive works. These rights include:

  • Making copies
  • Distributing copies
  • Performing or displaying work
  • Making derivative works


Copyright Information

What has copyright?

What is protected by copyright?

U.S. copyright law covers original creative works, including, but not limited to: 

  • research articles, books, and manuscripts in any field
  • 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
  • software code
  • online content
  • unpublished creative works 

What is not protected by copyright?

  • Ideas, facts, and data
  • Logos and taglines (protected by Trademark)
  • Anything created by the U.S. government
  • Works for which copyright has expired

Not sure?

When & how does copyright happen?

  • As soon as a creative work is "fixed in a tangible medium of expression," it is automatically protected by copyright.
  • There is no requirement to register for copyright. Copyright protection is automatic. 

Obtaining Permission