According to the Copyright Office, copyright is defined as a way to protect original and tangible works of authorship for both published and unpublished works.
Copyright can protect literary, dramatic, artistic, or musical works.
It does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation.
More information on our Author's Rights Research guide.
Find more about general copyright information from the U.S. Copyright Office. Information found here includes the differences between a patent, trademark, and copyrighted work, duration of protection, registration, and more.
According to the U.S. Copyright Office, fair use is the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances.
The four factors of fair use are:
Please see the U.S. Office of Copyright for More Information on Fair Use.
Public domain works are free to use because they are no longer under copyright protection.
Generally, works published after January 1, 1978, are protected by copyright for the duration of the author's life plus 70 years. For works with anonymous authors, pseudonym authors, or works made for hire, the copyright term is 95 years from the year of its first publication or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever comes first.
Many public domain works are available through Hathi Trust, Google Books, and Internet Archive.
The TEACH Act (Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act) attempts to give distance instructors the same opportunities to show copyrighted works in their classroom as a face-to-face instructor would have.
Requirements of the TEACH Act:
Once a work is created and available, it's protected by copyright. Registering for copyright is voluntary, but according to the U.S. Copyright Office, it can be beneficial if the creator wishes to bring a lawsuit for infringement.
The difference between patents, trademarks, and copyrighted materials is that copyright protects literary, dramatic, or musical works or information. Patents protect inventions. Trademarks protect either a word, phrase, symbol, or design or any combination of those.
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