Copyright Basics: Introduction
Test Your Copyright Knowledge
What You Need To Know
Much of the information in this section is drawn from content posted on the Web site of the U.S. Copyright Office and is based on the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976. The information appears here in an edited form. For a fuller discussion of these topics, including references to legal and other resources, visit:

In the United States, copyright law protects the authors of "original works of authorship, including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works." This protection covers both published and unpublished works, regardless of the nationality or domicile of the author. It is unlawful for anyone to violate any of the rights provided by copyright law to the owner of a copyright.

Derived from specific language in the Constitution, U.S. copyright law exists to foster creativity and spur the distribution of new and original works. The law grants copyright holders, such as publishers, writers and other types of creators, the exclusive right to reproduce, perform, distribute, translate and publicly display their original works. Simply stated, this means that unless your situation meets one of the exceptions outlined in the Copyright Act, you must get explicit permission from the copyright holder before you can lawfully reuse, reproduce or redistribute a copyright-protected work – even within the walls of your institution.

This section provides an overview of copyright law, information about important topics such as fair use, special provisions for academic institutions, and a quick reference chart that outlines the types of content protected by copyright.

Special Copyright Provisions for Academia
The Copyright Act contains specific exceptions for the use of copyright-protected materials by academic institutions. These provisions include:

Click here for detailed information on these provisions.