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Copyright Law & Fair Use: Understanding Copyright

Research guide discussing copyright law, fair use, TEACH act, and public performance rights.

What is Copyright?

What is copyright?

Copyright is a form of protection that the U.S. gives to creators and authors of original creative works, including without limitation, literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. The protection applies to both published and unpublished works. Copyright is the right of the author, artist, composer, or creator to control the use of his or her work by others.

To acquire copyright protection, a work must be an idea that is fixed in a tangible form of expression. A work is original when a human author produces it and it possesses at least a minimal degree of creativity. A work is fixed when is captured in a sufficiently permanent medium that would allow the work to be perceived, reproduced, or communicated for more than a short time.

Copyright protection is automatic from the moment the original work is fixed.

A non-exhaustive list of works that are subject to copyright protection include:

  • Literary works
  • Musical works
  • Dramatic works
  • Motion pictures
  • Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works

Copyright Basics

Copyright on Campus

Resources & Links

McKee Library's Copyright & Fair Use Policy

McKee Library at Southern Adventist University is committed to adhering to and upholding all applicable laws regarding intellectual property, including without limitation, Title 17 of the United States Code, the Copyright Act of 1976, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, and the Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization (“TEACH”) Act.

YouTube Copyright School

Russell learns some valuable lessons about copyright. Video from the YouTube Copyright School.