This toolkit is provided to assist you in finding the information you need about copyright. If you need assistance, contact the Sladen Information Desk.
Click on the tabs along the top of the page to see the Copyright resources in each category.
This guide does not supply legal advice and is not intended to replace the advice of legal counsel.
Use the Digital Copyright Slider to assist you in determining if a work is protected by copyright or is in the public domain.
Copyright is a protection that covers published and unpublished literary, scientific and artistic works, whatever the form of expression, provided such works are fixed in a tangible or material form. (United States Law, Title, 17, U.S. Code)
In order to be protected by copyright, a work must be:
Copyright covers the creation of a work from the moment it is put into a tangible form: Random access memory (RAM) on your computer, notes on a piece of paper, etc. The work does not need to published to be covered under copyright.
These items ARE protected by copyright:
These items ARE NOT protected by copyright:
Fair Use is an exception to the protection of copyright under U.S. law. It permits certain limited uses without permission from the author or owner. Fair Use usually applies to criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship or research.
According to the U.S. Copyright Office, there are four criteria that must be considered to determine if the use of a work is covered by fair use:
The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
The nature of the copyrighted work
The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work
Source: FL-102: Fair Use
The criteria of what is considered fair use and what is considered infringement is not always clear. Copyright law does not specify how much of a work (number of lines or words) can be used under fair use.
Copyright gives authors specific rights in regards to their works. These rights include the following (United States Law, Title, 17, U.S. Code):
Copyright owners can seek copyright infringement penalties from those who use their copyrighted work without permission and outside of the scope of fair use.