Technology Staff Development » Copyright and Fair Use

Copyright and Fair Use

What is Copyright?
Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. Copyright is automatically applied when the work is created and "fixed in a copy" in some format (e.g., paper, film, audio, etc.), even if it does not mention or list the © symbol or the word "copyright."
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What is Public Domain?
A work of authorship is in the “public domain” if it is no longer under copyright protection or if it failed to meet the requirements for copyright protection. Works in the public domain may be used freely without the permission of the former copyright owner.

What is  Fair Use?
Fair use allows the limited use of copyrighted material for certain situations. Four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:
  • The Purpose and Character of the Use
  • The Nature of the Copyrighted Work
  • The Amount and Substantiality of the Work Used
  • The Effect of Use on the Potential Market for the Copyrighted Work

What are Creative Commons?
Creative Commons is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to making it easier for people to share and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright. They provide free licenses and other legal tools to mark creative work with the freedom the creator wants it to carry, so others can share, remix, use commercially, or any combination thereof. Learn more

What is Attribution?
Attribution in copyright law, is the requirement to acknowledge or credit the author of a work which is used or appears in another work.

Understanding Copyright and Fair Use
Taking the Mystery Out of Copyright Interactive activity for students from the Library of Congress.