Brandel Library

Copyright and Fair Use

Copyright Basics

What is Copyright?

Copyright is a form of legal protection that generally gives the copyright holder the exclusive right to do the following:

1. reproduce the work;
2. prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work;
3. distribute copies of the original work ;
4. perform the copyrighted work publicly;
5. display the copyrighted work publicly; and
6. in the case of sound recordings, perform the copyrighted work publicly.

These rights can be transferred and are not unlimited in scope - copyright extends for a fixed duration of time and there are a number of exceptions and exemptions to these exclusive rights. These rights are fully defined in Section 106 of the Copyright Law.

What Works are Covered by Copyright?

Copyright protects "original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression." This includes the following categories of works: literary works; musical works, including any accompanying words; dramatic works, including any accompanying music; pantomimes and choreographic works; pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works; motion pictures and other audiovisual works; sound recordings; and architectural works. The scope of copyright is defined in Section 102 of the Copyright Law.

Under current laws, works are automatically protected by copyright at the time of their creation. You are not required to put a copyright notice on the work (©) or register the work with the Copyright Office.