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Scholarly Communication: Using Copyrighted Works

Copyright Introduction

United States copyright law is contained within Title 17 of the United States Code. Copyright protection applies to "original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression" (recorded, saved to a hard drive, written down, etc.). The law specifies eight protected categories:

  • literary works;
  • musical works, including any accompanying words;
  • dramatic works, including any accompanying music;
  • pantomimes and choreographic works;
  • pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
  • motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
  • sound recordings; and
  • architectural works.

The law also grants exclusive rights to copyright holders (Section 106). You've likely heard these referred to as a bundle of rights. They include the rights to:

  • reproduce the work;
  • prepare derivative works;
  • distribute copies of the work;
  • perform the copyrighted work publicly;
  • display the copyrighted work publicly; and
  • perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.

The resources on this site are included for informational purposes and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have specific legal questions, please contact an attorney.