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Reference Guide: Copyright Guide

This guide serves as the home page for all things Reference at Lewis Library. Meet your reference librarians, learn about reference services available to you, and check out suggested resources and guides all from this page!

Copyright Basics

©  Copyright - To put it simply, a copyright is a subset of intellectual property law, and it's a formal legal protection for authorship. Copyright protects original works, including literary works, dramatic works and even technical works. Copyright law extends to everything from poetry and novels to architecture and computer software, and includes music, movies and most written works.  Did you know that as soon as you finish creating something new (research paper, music, photo, drawing, poem) that work is automatically copyrighted? It's true! The big "C" (©) doesn't have the make an appearance.

Creative Commons - This option is a way for you to take your intellectual property – original content like photos, writing, designs, videos and more, and assign rights to it to be shared with the community and the world. It is not an alternative to copyright: it works in parallel with copyright. Creative Commons licensing can protect the original copyright and level of permissions the author chooses. It can also perpetuate these rights (or not, depending on the author’s choice) and encourages and facilitates re-use and sharing.

So you want to know more about Copyright?

Welcome to your library's guide to Copyright! Whether you're a student or an educator, and whether you're creating new content (publishing a paper, writing a song, taking a photograph), or using already created content for your own purposes (remixing audio or video, using another person's work in your power point presentation or lesson plan), there are a few things you need to know about copyright. Use the various pages/tabs on this guide to learn a little more about Copyright & Creative Commons licenses, as well as Fair Use and the Public Domain.

Copyright Basics

Fair Use Fair use is the most significant limitation on the copyright holder's exclusive rights. Deciding whether the use of a work is fair IS NOT a science. There are no set guidelines that are universally accepted. Instead, the individual who wants to use a copyrighted work must weigh four factors: (1) The purpose and character of the use. (2) The nature of the copyrighted work. (3) The amount and substantiality of the portion used. (4) The effect of use on the potential market for the copyrighted work.

Public Domain Icon Clip Art  Public Domain - The public domain is generally defined as consisting of works that are either ineligible for copyright protection or with expired copyrights. No permission whatsoever is needed to copy or use public domain works. Public domain works and information represent some of the most critical information that faculty members and students rely upon. Public domain works can serve as the foundation for new creative works and can be quoted extensively. They can also be copied and distributed to classes or digitized and placed on course Web pages without permission or paying royalties. 

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