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Copyright & Fair Use

Resources about copyright and fair use.

History of Copyright

The rich History of Copyright dates back, many would say, to the late 1660's to 1700's with the Statue of Anne.  The historical background for copyright starts in 1476 with introduction into Great Britain of the printing press.

For those interested in American Copyright start with our forebears in Great Britain.  One of the best sites is described below and can be found here:

   Primary Sources on Copyright (1450--1900

   "This is a digital archive of primary sources on copyright from the invention of the printing press (c. 1450) to the Berne Convention (1886) and beyond. The UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded the initial phase (completed in 2008) focusing on key materials from Renaissance Italy (Venice, Rome), France, the German speaking countries, Britain and the United States."

To get started, click here  

You surely will wish to look over the 1710 Statue of Anne--considered to be the first governmental (versus private parties) regulation of copyright.

Interested in History? Macaulay & Copyright in 1841!

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