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Copyright and Plagiarism

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions
On
Copyright 
 

What is copyright?
When does a copyright take effect?
What rights are created through a copyright?

What can be protected by copyright?
Who has ownership of a copyrighted work?
What does "fixed" mean, within the phrase, "fixed within a tangible medium"?
What is the goal of copyright?
How do copyrights differ from patents and trademarks?
Can a copyright be bought or sold?
What is intellectual property?
Do I have to include a copyright notice on my work?
How can I find out what is copyrighted so I can get permission to use it?
What is the TEACH Act?
What is "fair use"?
What are the general tenets of "fair use"?
What is CONFU?
What is the “Library Copyright Alliance”?
What are the Copyright Protection Periods?
 

What is copyright?
Copyright is a legal device that gives the creator of a work of art or literature, or a work that conveys information or ideas, the right to control how that work is used.

The exception to the general rule that you can’t use a copyrighted work without the author’s permission is
called “fair use.” "Fair use" is needed because society can often benefit from the unauthorized use of copyrighted materials when the purpose of the use serves the ends of scholarship, education or an informed public.  Thus there is always a sort of "tension" between protecting the author's work - to encourage creativity - and using that work for the public good, for example, education or information.

When does a copyright take effect?

A copyright arises at the moment an idea is created and recorded as a tangible form of expression. Therefore, even authors who have not applied for copyright still possess rights over their creative works.  So, just because a work does not have the word "copyright," an abbreviation of the word, or the copyright symbol- the work can still be protected.

What rights are created through a copyright?

Federal statute (17 USC 106) grants the author a "bundle of rights" over the creative work, including the rights to:

reproduce
distribute
display in public
perform in public, and
make derivative works from the original work.
 

What can be protected by copyright?

. Literary works
. Musical works, including the words
. Dramatic works, including the music therein
. Choreography
.  Pantomimes
.  Pictorial/graphic and/or sculptural works
. Movies, DVDs, other A-V
. Sound recordings
. Architectural works

Who has ownership of a copyrighted work?

Usually, the creator or author has ownership in the creative work. (17 USC 201(a)). However, there is an exception when the copyrighted work is a "work for hire." Work for hire is any creative work that is either prepared by an employee within the scope of her/his employment or work specifically ordered for use as a contribution to a collective work, as part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, as a translation, as a supplementary work, as a compilation, as an instructional text, as a test, as answer material for a test, or as an atlas, if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire.


What does "fixed" mean, within the phrase, "fixed within a tangible medium"?

An author’s expression must be "fixed in any tangible medium" to be protected under the Copyright Act.23 Section 101 defines "fixed" as "when its embodiment in a copy or phonorecord, by or under the authority of the author, is sufficiently permanent or stable to permit it to be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated for a period of more than transitory duration."

What is the goal of copyright?
To determine the right tension - that both rewards creators for their efforts and stimulates creativity  - while severely inhibiting citizens' needs for information and creativity.

How do copyrights differ from patents and trademarks?

Copyrights concern artistic works, patents refer to functional things, and trademarks protect the word or symbol that identifies a given product in the mind of the consumer.

Can a copyright be bought or sold?
Like any other property, a copyright can be bought and sold.

What is intellectual property?

The concept of legal protection for original creations. It includes copyright, trademarks, and patents.

Do I have to include a copyright notice on my work?
Until 1989, a published work had to contain a valid copyright notice. But this is no longer required —works first published
after March 1, 1989, do not have to include a copyright notice to gain protection under the law.  Still, you should have a copyright notice on your work, because, if someone ever violates your copyright, it will hold up better in a court of law.

How can I find out what is copyrighted so I can get permission to use it?
The best way is through copyright collectives or clearinghouses.
For example, the Copyright Clearance Center (www.copyright.com), and iCopyright (www.icopyright.com) provide permissions for written materials.
 

What is the TEACH Act?
Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization Act.
(See Section 110(2) of the U.S. Copyright Act)
An act created to achieve a balance between protecting copyrighted works and permitting educators to use those materials in distance education.

What is "fair use"?
Within the current copyright law is a codified concept called “fair use”
(Section 107). Fair use lets someone other than the copyright holder copy and distribute copyrighted material - in certain situations -without first getting permission. Without "fair use", copyright’s constitutional purpose to enhance learning, and promote knowledge, wouldn't work. The law specifically allows fair use for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, and scholarship or research.

What are the general tenets of "fair use"?
Fair use requires the courts to consider the following questions in deciding if your copying was considered "fair use":
• Is it a competitive use? If the use may affect the sales of the
copied material, it’s probably not fair.
• How much material was taken from the entire work?  The
more someone takes, the less likely that the use is fair.
• How was the material used?  If the work was significantly creatively changed, it is more likely to be considered "fair use."    • Criticism, comment, news reporting, research, scholarship and nonprofit educational uses will also likely be judged fair uses.

What is CONFU?
CONFERENCE ON FAIR USE
Because of thorny issues regarding technology and education, a group of librarians, publishers, educators, technical experts, and others decided to meet in 1994 with then Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown. The group, CONFU, tried to draft a set of fair use guidelines for various electronic formats, including the Internet.
Electronic reserves, distance learning, production of multimedia, and interlibrary loan were discussed, and guidelines were issued in 1997.  These guidelines are not legal, but rather an agreement among the organizations represented within CONFU.

The guidelines should neither be considered as a safe harbor, nor as a law that must be followed.  But to follow them at least points to a good faith effort to follow copyright procedures.

The complete CONFU report can be found at http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/dcom/olia/confu/confurep.pdf

What is the “Library Copyright Alliance”?
ALA, ARL, American Assoc. of Law Libraries, SLA, and MLA

What is first sale?
It allows someone to resell, lend or dispose of a lawfully acquired copyrighted work. That is how people can sell music albums and books that they have bought, and how libraries can lend books.

That is, after the initial sale of a copyrighted work, the copyright owner cannot control future sales or lending of it.

What are the Copyright Protection Periods?

If the work was created:
Before 1923
The term of protection is:
In the public domain

If the work was created:
1923–1963
The term of protection is:
28 years plus renewal for 47 years (plus another 20 years provided by the Sonny Bono Act of 1998) making total protection time 95 years. If not renewed, protection expires after 28 years.


If the work was created:
1964–1977
The term of protection is:
28 years plus renewal for 67 years


If the work was created:
1978 and after
The term of protection is:
The life of the author plus 70 years. If a work has multiple authors, the protection under the most recent law (1976) is the life of the longest-living author plus 70 years. If the author is anonymous, or if the work is made for hire, the 1976 law protects the work for 95 years from the year of first publication or 120 years from the year of creation, whichever expires first.

For an anonymous work, copyright lasts 95 years from the date of registration or 125 years from the date of creation, whichever is shorter.

Please note the following disclaimer: This website should not be construed as a substitute for legal advice, nor does it guarantee complete accuracy or comprehensiveness on the subject of copyright.  Please consult an attorney for specific situations.


 

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