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What is copyright?

Copyright law protects original, creative works for a period of time. Copyright applies both to traditional media (books, records, etc.) and to digital media (electronic journals, web sites, etc.). Copyright protection includes the following rights:

  1. to reproduce the copyrighted work
  2. to create derivative works based on the copyrighted work
  3. to distribute copies of the copyrighted work
  4. to perform the copyrighted work publicly
  5. to display the copyrighted work publicly

What is protected?

Copyright law protects the following eight categories of works:

  1. literary works
  2. musical works
  3. dramatic works
  4. pantomimes and choreographic works
  5. pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
  6. motion pictures and other audiovisual works
  7. sound recordings
  8. architectural works

How long does copyright protection last?

The term of copyright depends on when the work was first created and/or published, and the copyright law at that time. 

Created in or after 1978 - Life of the author plus 70 years

Created in or after 1978 by an anonymous author, corporate author, or a work made for hire - 95 years after publication or 120 years after publication, whichever comes first.

Created before 1978, but not published - 70 years after the death of the author or through December 31, 2002, whichever is later. If the copyright owner published the work before the end of 2002 the term is extended through December 31, 2047.

Published after 1922 and before 1978 - 95 years date of original publication.

Created and published before 1923 - Copyright has expired.

Crash Course: Copyright

This video provides a friendly introduction to the complexities of copyright law. 

Creative Commons Licenses

Creative Commons licenses provide an opportunity for authors to keep their copyright, but communicate to others how they can use the work.

For example:

Are you fine with someone using your work for any purpose (classroom teaching, translation, sharing online), but don't want them to be able to use it commercially? CC-BY-NC is the right license for you.

The Creative Commons license generator will help you choose what Creative Commons license you need.

Creative Commons licensed materials can also be great additions to your classroom teaching whether it's an article, photograph, documentary, or textbook.

Library Copyright Compliance Policy

It is the policy of the FGCU library to engage in the reproduction and distribution of copyrighted works in accordance with USC Title 17, Section 108. Read the full policy.

Further Resources