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Copyright Clarity in an Era of Immediate Access  

Information and resources for faculty including information about Fair Use and the TEACH Act
Last Updated: Apr 8, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Copyright both upholds the integrity of the scholarly process and allows for the permissible sharing of knowledge. Copyright is a fine and sometimes blurry line of use and attribution made increasing complex with proliferation of technology. New technologies and digital formats have changed the way we create, access, use and share information. New tools make sharing easier without providing any guidance or checks for copyright compliance.

What is copyright?

Copyright is both a constitutional right and a complicated law, balanced with first amendment rights of free speech. The constitution protects the rights of content creators and the law governs the the exact rights of copyright holders and users.

The Constitutional Provision Respecting Copyright reads:

The Congress shall have Power … To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Tımes to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.
- United States Constitution, Article I, Section 8

According to Title 17 of the United States Code, copyright protection “subsists in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. Works of authorship 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; and
(8) architectural works.

In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work.”

Copyright is automatically guaranteed with creation, even web-content.



Guide Author

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Cadi Russell-Sauve
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