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Copyright Information for Students   Tags: copyright  

Last Updated: Oct 19, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

The Basics Print Page

What is copyright law?

"Copyright is a form of protection provided by U.S. law to authors of 'original works of authorship' from the time the works are created in a fixed form" (United States Copyright Office, 2017, p. 1). This means that when a work is created and put on paper, video, audio or other tangible formats then the creater is entitled to certain rights and others are not allowed to use the work without direct permission from the creater/owner, or through an exception outlined by the United State Copyright Office.

What is covered by copyright?

The following types of works are protected by copyright law:

  1. Novels, poems, and other literary works
  2. Musical compositions and lyrics
  3. Plays and other dramatic works
  4. Dance routines
  5. Paintings, sculptures, graphic design pieces, and other artwork
  6. Films, television shows, and other audiovisial works
  7. Architecture and blue prints
  8. Sound recordings such as audiobooks and original spoken word pieces

What is NOT covered by copyright?

Not everything is protected by copyright. It's important to note that not only does a work need to be fixed in form, but the content must be original and creative. The following, according to the US Copyright Office, are not protected by copyright law:

  1. Ideas, concepts, procedures, etc.
  2. Any creative work not fixed in a tangible form like a speech. (You would need to write down your speech or record it in audio or video for it be copyrighted)
  3. Slogans and other short phrases
  4. Common symbols
  5. Lists of items or directories of people

You can read more about this topic here.


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