This subject guide on copyright is meant as a resource to better understand copyright law and how it affects research and communication.
It is not final or encompassing, but should illuminate the aspects of the law that touches our work the most.
Stated simply, Copyright is a collection of exclusive rights granted to the creator or owner of an intellectual work for a fixed period of time, including the rights to reproduce, distribute, and display. Works protected by copyright include, but are not limited to, literary, musical, dramatic, and pictorial or graphic works, motion pictures and other audiovisual works, sound recordings, and architectural works. Copyright protects the expression of an idea and a work does not need to be published in order to gain copyright protection, but must be fixed in a "tangible medium of expression." In the United States, copyright is governed by the Copyright Act of 1976 as amended and incorporated in the U.S. Code as Title 17.
(a) Copyright protection subsists, in accordance with this title, in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. Works of authorship include the following categories:
Subject to sections 107 through 122, the owner of copyright under this title has the exclusive rights to do and to authorize any of the following: