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Copyright and Licensing

This guide provides basic information on copyright and licensing of creative works.

What is copyright?

Copyright is the legal principle (encoded in the U.S. in Title 17 of the United States Code) that grants to creators the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, remix, perform, and and display their creations. These creations can be books, articles, music, poetry, art work, choreography, architectural works, videos and movies, etc. Basically anything that can be "fixed" in a "tangible medium of expression" (Copyright Law of the United States, p. 8).

Copyright applies to your work as soon as it is fixed in a tangible format, whether you register it or not. However, registering your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office can provide you more legal protection.

Creators can license their creative works to other people, entities, publishers, and corporations for reproduction, display, or performance. Creators can also, if they choose, grant permission on a case-by-case basis. The value of licenses, such as Creative Commons licenses, is that they provide greater enforceability and control.

Current U.S. Copyright law allows a creators to retain the copyright on their work for the life of the creator plus 70 years.

United States Copyright Law

Scholarly Communications, Copyright, and Licensing Librarian

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Edward Eckel
Room 1067
Waldo Library