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Formerly called Intellectual Property Guide. Info on copyright, public domain, and exceptions such as fair use and face-to-face instruction. Have questions? Chat or text the library at (731) 503 - 4874

Intro to Copyright

What is copyright? Copyright is a way for authors, artists, and other creators to protect their original works. It is a form of intellectual property, which also includes patents and trademarks. Intellectual property is just a fancy way to say that ideas matter, and any physical thing you create from those ideas is YOURS. 

Copyright motivates artists to keep creating, knowing that they can earn financial rewards, recognition, or other incentives for the creativity that comes from their mind. However, there are MANY exceptions to copyright. This allows other people to use creative works, within set parameters, so ideas can spread and many people can benefit from one person's creativity. This fosters more creativity and more ideas!

Copyright is a law in the United States. There have been many court cases that helped decide, inform, and shape copyright law. This Guide provides a starting point to help you understand copyright and some of the most important exceptions, but it is not legal advice. 

Copyright Books

Important Copyright Sections

§102 · Subject matter of copyright: In general

  • Includes what is covered by copyright law
    • Literary works
    • Musical works, including accompanying words
    • Dramatic works, including accompanying music
    • Pantomimes and choreographic works (provided they are in some way recorded or written down)
    • Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
    • Motion pictures and other audiovisual works
    • Sound recordings
    • Architectural works
  • This means that things that do not fall under these materials are not subject to copyright law, although they may be subject to other limitations such as patents and trademarks
  • Ideas themselves are NOT subject to copyright, although the specific way an idea is expressed is.

§106 · Exclusive rights in copyrighted works

  • Things you can do with your copyrighted works

§107 · Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use

  • Fair use is a super important part of copyright law!
  • "purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright"

§108 · Limitations on exclusive rights: Reproduction by libraries and archives

  • This is the exception that allows the library to do what we do

§109 · Limitations on exclusive rights: Effect of transfer of particular copy or phonorecord

  • Often called "First Sale"
  • Once you buy a particular copy of a book, movie, or other copyrighted material, you can sell it, give it away, or destroy it

§110 · Limitations on exclusive rights: Exemption of certain performances and displays

  • Often called the "Classroom Use"
  • Allows teachers to show their students complete films and other digital artifacts in a face-to-face classroom