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Ethical Use of Information: Copyright

What is copyright?

Definition: The exclusive legal right, given to an originator or an assignee to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same.

Is copyright a Law?

Yes. The U.S. Copyright Law is a federal Law in the US Code Title 17

It is also a right guaranteed to U.S. citizens by the constitution in Article 1, Section 8, providing protection for the individual while enabling their work to benefit the nation.

“The congress shall have Power 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 Basics

Copyright Tutorial

Copyright Guidelines @ UP

What does this mean?

US Copyright law gives the creator of a work the exclusive right to:

  • Reproduce (make copies of ) the work; and
  • Modify or prepare derivative works based on the work. (Examples of derivative works include translations, transforming printed works into musicals or films, rearrangements of scores, and any other recast, transformation or adaptation of a work); and
  • Distribute the work in any format by sale, publication, license, rental, or for free; and
  • Publicly perform or display the work; and
  • Authorize others to exercise some or all of those rights

All the material you create, including for course work, is copyright protected. Before anyone can copy, distribute, display, make a derivative work, or perform your work publicly, they must seek your permission.

You must consider copyright law when putting information on a public website. This includes course materials provided by your professors, and any of your academic projects that use information, music, or images borrowed from another source. In those cases, you may need to secure permission from the copyright holder or see if the intended use qualifies for an exception such as “Fair Use.”

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