Copyright is defined as the exclusive right of the creator to reproduce, prepare derivative works, distribute, perform, display, sell, lend or rent their creations.
Copyright law is based on the Constitution
To promote the progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries"
Copyright is a federal law (17 U.S.C. 101 et. seq.). It allows authors to control the use of their works for a limited period of time. Once that time period has expired, the public is allowed to freely use the works without paying royalties or obtaining permission from the copyright holder.
The last major revision to the copyright law of the United States was the Copyright Act of 1976. It set forth the law that, with some small provisions, is still in effect today. The passage of the TEACH Act in 2002 updated Section 110 for distance education technology.
Please note: the items in 'not covered' may be covered by other types of law such as licensing, patent, trademark, etc
|Covered: Original works of authorship in a fixed medium of expression||Not covered|
|Music-written or recorded||Works in the public domain|
|Movies and videos||Logos and slogans (Trademark law)|
|Web pages||Blank forms that only collect information|
|Works of the U.S. government|
The work must be an original work that is fixed in a tangible medium of expression. All works in a fixed medium, whether published or unpublished, are copyright protected. This includes:
The copyright symbol is not necessary for a work to be copyrighted--it is automatic. Works do, however, need to be registered with the Copyright Office before legal action can be taken.
Works that are not copyrighted include:
A more detailed chart is available from Cornell.
Perform - To "Perform" a work means to recite, render, play, dance, or act it, either directly or by means of any device or process, or, in the case of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to show images in any sequence or to make the sounds accompanying it audible.
Display - To "Display" a work means to show a copy of it, either directly or by means of a film slide, television image, or any other device or process or, in the case of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to show individual images non-sequentially.
Penalties for copyright infringement may be actual or statutory. For schools, damages would most likely be statutory, with fines ranging from $250 to $10,000 per work infringed upon. Legal fees and court cost may also be included. Damages for willful violation may be as high as $100,000 per instance. In 1992, the penalty for infringement of computer software copyright (piracy) was raised to felony status, with fines up to $250,000.
Liability for copyright infringement may extend up the chain of command, from librarian or instructor, to dean, president and system liability. Employees can be considered "contributory infringes" if the assisted or helped the infringer or where in a position to control the use of a copyrighted work.