What is copyright?
It is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works.
Copyright is automatically applied when the work is created and “fixed in a copy” in some format (e.g. paper, film, audio, etc.), even if it does not mention or list the © symbol or the word “copyright.” Students may avoid plagiarism and use copyrighted material in their projects if they follow a few simple steps and a few simple rules. Review Copyright Basics (PDF format) from the U.S Copyright Office for more details.
What is public domain?
Any work with no copyright protection is labeled as public domain and is available for anyone to use. Government documents and works created before 1923 are considered in the public domain. Take a look at Creative Commons, supported by Stanford University Law School. The site provides a searchable database for locating items in the public domain, freely available if the author is given credit.
What is fair use?
When using copyrighted materials for your assignment, you are able to use video, audio, text and images that would otherwise be off limits. Your ability to use copyrighted materials for school work is considered fair use. The U.S. courts use the following criteria to determine fair use:
What if I use pictures or images from the Internet?
On the Internet you will find a mix of clip art (pictures that are available for you to use as you’d like), and pictures that are copyrighted, or owned by someone else. If it isn’t labeled, assume that someone else owns the picture and follow these guidelines:
What if I want to use a movie or film clip?
Movie clips that you find on the Internet, tape from TV, check out from a library, or have in your personal collection are copyrighted or owned by someone else. Free sites will be labeled. If the movie isn't labeled, assume that someone else owns the rights to that movie and follow these guidelines:
What if I use downloaded music or other audio?
Audio clips refer to music and sounds. Some of these are available for free. Free sites will be labeled. If a site it isn’t labeled, assume that someone else owns the rights to the particular music or sound and follow these guidelines:
Disclaimer: The material on this page is for general information only and should not be construed as legal advice.