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Copyright and Fair Use: Copyright Law

Information on copyright and fair use in the academic setting.

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 Copyright covers both published and unpublished works.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.Gov, n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2014. <http://copyright.gov/help/faq>.

Introduction

The purpose of this guide is to provide faculty, staff, and students at Mississippi College with an understanding of copyright law and fair use.

While copyright issues can be complex, everyone needs to understand the basics. Failure to comply with copyright law can lead to substantial legal penalties for both you and the university.

This guide also includes copyright and fair use compliance guidelines for faculty.

Copyright Term and Duration in the U.S.

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Copyright on Campus Video by Copyright Clearance Center

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 protection includes, for instance, the legal right to publish and sell literary, artistic, or musical work, and copyright protects authors, publishers and producers, and the public.  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.

Disclaimer

Disclaimer: This guide on using copyright materials, Creative Commons licensed materials, and copyright law is provided for informational purposes only!  I am not a lawyer and cannot provide legal advice.  None of what you read in this tutorial should be construed as legal advice.  Should you require legal advice, please contact an attorney.