This is the "Copyright Basics*" page of the "Copyright Guide" guide.
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Copyright Guide   Tags: copyright, research_tools_&_strategies  

General Information on U.S. Copyright Law for Staff and Students
Last Updated: Aug 8, 2014 URL: http://libguides.uwlax.edu/copyright Print Guide RSS Updates

Copyright Basics* Print Page
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About This Guide

This guide is intended as general information for the faculty, staff, and students of UW-La Crosse. Although this guide is one of hundreds of information resources available regarding copyright law, several of which are included here to provide background and further detail, it is most important to read the law. Where it is useful, the wording of the law or the summary provided by the U.S. Copyright Office is reproduced and/or linked from the guide. Please contact Heather Jett, Murphy Library access services librarian, if you have questions or comments about this guide.

 

*Attribution

*The content of this page, "Copyright Basics," is excerpted from the United States Copyright Office's Circular 1, "Copyright Basics," which is in the public domain under current copyright law. The entire circular can be downloaded in PDF format here: http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf

Links embedded in the text of this page lead to the United States Copyright Office's Circular 92, "Complete Version of the U.S. Copyright Law, December 2011," which is also available in PDF format. Get a free version of Adobe Reader here: http://get.adobe.com/reader/

 

What is Copyright?*

Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U. S. Code) to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do the following:

  • reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords
  • prepare derivative works based upon the work
  • distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending
  • perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works
  • display the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work
  • perform the work publicly (in the case of sound recordings) by means of a digital audio transmission

In addition, certain authors of works of visual art have the rights of attribution
and integrity as described in section 106A of the 1976 Copyright Act.

 

What Is Not Protected By Copyright?*

Several categories of material are generally not eligible for federal copyright protection. These include among others:

  • works that have not been fixed in a tangible form of expression (for example, choreographic works that have not been notated or recorded, or improvisational speeches or performances that have not been written or recorded)

  • titles, names, short phrases, and slogans; familiar symbols or designs; mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or coloring; mere listings of ingredients or contents

  • ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts, principles, discoveries, or devices, as distinguished from a description, explanation, or illustration

  • works consisting entirely of information that is common property and containing no original authorship (for example: standard calendars, height and weight charts, tape measures and rulers, and lists or tables taken from public documents or other common sources)
 

What Works Are Protected?*

Copyright protects “original works of authorship” that are fixed in a tangible form of expression. The fixation need not be directly perceptible so long as it may be communicated with the aid of a machine or device. Copyrightable works include the following categories:

  1. literary works
  2. musical works, including any accompanying words
  3. dramatic works, including any accompanying music
  4. pantomimes and choreographic works
  5. pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
  6. motion pictures and other audiovisual works
  7. sound recordings
  8. architectural works

These categories should be viewed broadly. For example, computer programs and most “compilations” may be registered as “literary works”; maps and architectural plans may be registered as “pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works.”









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