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Copyright & Fair Use

Resources about copyright and fair use.

What is Copyright?

From the U.S. Copyright Office:

"It is a principle of American law that an author of a work may reap the fruits of his or her intellectual creativity for a limited period of time.

Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States for original works of authorship, including literary, dramatic, musical, architectural, cartographic, choreographic, pantomimic, pictorial, graphic, sculptural, and audiovisual creations. 

The term has come to mean that body of exclusive rights granted by law to authors for protection of their work.

The owner of copyright has the exclusive right to:

  • Reproduce, distribute, and, in the case of certain works, publicly perform or display the work
  • Prepare derivative works
  • Perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission (in the case of sound recordings) 
  • License others to engage in the same acts under specific terms and conditions.

Copyright protection does not extend to any idea, procedure, process, slogan, principle, or discovery."

Copyright owner's rights:

  • Are not absolute--they can be 'unbundled' and transferred to someone else (such as when an author signs over distribution rights to a publisher)
  • Are limited in duration 
  • Are subject to numbers of exceptions

What is Copyright? From the US Copyright Office


The information contained within this guide is for informational and instructional purposes only. It is not legal advice.

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Dallas Long, Dean of Milner Library, is the designated copyright agent for Illinois State University.