Skip to main content

Copyright

The resources listed here explain copyright rights, duration of protection and how to use copyright-protected works. This guide is intended for teachers, students and librarians.

Copyright Eligibility

Copyright protects works that are original and fixed in a tangible medium.  Original in this sense means that the creator of the work made the work her- or himself, and did not recycle someone else's creation.  The requirement that works be fixed ensures that there is a record of what the work is.  Otherwise, nobody would know exactly what is protected.  The following categories of works are eligible for copyright protection:

literature                     

music and lyrics                 

pictures, graphics, and sculptures      

plays                           

choreography                    

films and other audiovisual works

sound recordings        

architectural works

Copyright does not protect ideas, formulas, processes, procedures, principles, or discoveries.  

The Rights of Copyright

What does copyright really mean?  Although copyright is a singular word, it is a plural concept.  A copyright includes all of these exclusive rights: 

1.  to reproduce the work

2.  to prepare derivative works based upon the original work

3.  to publicly distribute copies of the work

4.  to publicly perform the work

5.  to publicly display the work

6.  in the case of sound recordings, to publicly perform the work via digital transmission

 

The Duration of Copyright

For works created now, copyright lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years.  For institutional works, it is 95 years from publication or 120 days from creation, whichever is shorter.  The situation can be complicated for earlier works.  These charts have more information.

Copyright Law and FAQs