What is Copyright?
- Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code) to the authors of "original works of authorship." This protection applies to both published and unpublished works.
- "To promote the progress of science and the useful arts by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries" — U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 8.
- Copyright is violated when someone copies or uses a copyrighted work without the permission of the copyright owner unless used within the fair use provision of the copyright law.
- What are the Fair Use Rights for Users
The fair use provision of the copyright law allows the making of copies for 'purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research.' Fair Use requires the consideration of four factors:
- What is the character of the use? Non-profit vs. Commercial
- What is the nature of the work to be used? Mostly Facts vs. Original Works
- How much of the work will you use? Small Part vs. Nearly All
- What effect would this use have on the market for the original if the use were widespread? None vs. Destroy Commercial Sales
- Library Fair Use
- Libraries follow the fair use doctrine by buying all materials they loan, by getting permissions from copyright owners for, only putting one chapter or a small part of a textbook on reserve, never loaning an entire periodical, but only a small number of articles from the periodical, etc.
- Personal Fair Use
- A person may make one copy for their personal information or entertainment as long as it is not for commercial gain and is not plagiarized.
What is Protected by Copyright?
Copyright protects "original works of authorship" that are fixed in a tangible form of expression. Copyright protection exists from the time the work is created in fixed form.
- literary works; computer programs; web pages
- musical works,
- dramatic works,
- pantomimes and choreographic works
- pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works maps; architectural plans
- motion pictures and other audiovisual works
- sound recordings(cds, tapes,etc.)
- architectural works
What Cannot Be Copyrighted?
Works that have not been fixed in a tangible form of expression (for example, speeches that have not been written or recorded:
- Titles, personal names, familiar symbols or designs;
- Ideas, procedures, methods,
- Works containing no original authorship (for example: standard calendars, height or weight charts
- Public domain works
- Government publications and laws.
How to Get a Copyright
- Securing a Copyright
- Copyright is secured automatically when the work is created, and a work is "created" when it is fixed in a copy for the first time. No publication or registration or other action in the Copyright Office is required to secure copyright. There are, however, advantages to registration.
- Copyright Registration
- Registration is easy. Go to the U.S. Copyright Office web site, download the proper forms, fill out and return with the copyright fee of $30.00.
- How Long Copyright Protection Lasts
- Copyright Protection varies according to the date the item was conceived and put in fixed form or when it was published. Under the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act of 1998, a copyright now lasts 90 years beyond the death of the author or creator. Before 1978, a work had to be published and registered with the U.S. Copyright Office in order to be copyrighted. The published work would have a 'c' or say 'copyrighted' on the back of the title page. Copyright lasted 50 years after the death of the author. After 1978, several laws changed the length of copyright and some items have received exemptions to copyright expiration.
- Copyrighted Works Returned to Public Domain
- Published works copyrighted more than 75 years ago are now in the public domain.