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.
*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/
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 This protection is available to both published and unpublished works.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:
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.
Cornell University Law School's Legal Information Institute also provides acces to Title 17, with notes: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17
Several categories of material are generally not eligible for federal copyright protection. These include among others:
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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:
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.”
When you write copy, you own the right of copyright to the copy you write, if the copy is right. If, however, your copy falls over, you must right your copy. If you write religious services, you write rite, and own the right of copyright to the rite you write.
Conservatives write Right copy, and own the right of copyright to the Right copy they write. A right-wing cleric would write Right rite, and owns the right of copyright to the Right rite he has the right to write. His editor has the job of making the Right rite copy right before the copyright can be right.
Should Reverend Jim Wright decide to write Right rite, then Wright would write right rite, to which Wright has the right of copyright. Duplicating his rite would be to copy Wright’s Right rite, and violate copyright to which Wright would have the right to right.