This is the "What is Copyright?" page of the "Copyright Resources" guide.
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Copyright Resources   Tags: copyright, fair use  

Last Updated: Jun 30, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

What is Copyright? Print Page

The Purpose of Copyright

Copyright is an important educational concept. It is a protected constitutional right; understanding copyright is essential for faculty, students and administrators.

What does Copyright protect?

Original Works:


What Doesn't Copyright protect?

      Sightings of Elvis

For more information see the FAQ's on the Library of Congress Copyright page.



Copyright Basics

This short animated video by the Copyright Clearance Center explains the basics of copyright.


Penalties for Copyright Violation

Infringement of Copyright is:

"Anyone who violates any of the exclusive rights of the copyright owner as provided by sections 106 through 122 or of the author as provided in section 106A(a)."  These violations include reproducing or distributing the copyrighted work, or downloading/uploading a substantial part of the work.

Using a copyrighted work without permission is an infringement of the copyright law and the copyright holder could file a lawsuit. The law provides for the copyright holder to be compensated substantially for damages and the legal costs. . If the lawsuit is successful the penalties could range from a fine of $200 - $150,000, plus court costs and attorney's fees.

For more information on Copyright Infringements and Remedies see Chapter 5 of Title 17.




Copyright protection is automatic as long as the item meets two critera:

It is an original work
It is in a tangible form -- paper, sculpture, etc.

Copyright on an item lasts the lifetime of the author plus 70 years after their death.

For more specific information see Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States by Cornell University



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