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Copyright and Fair Use: Home

About this Guide

We know copyright can be confusing and frustrating. Let us help! This guide contains general information on what copyright is, how long a person's copyright lasts, fair use of copyrighted materials, and information specifically for faculty looking to use copyrighted materials in the classroom and online. If there is information you need that you don't see in our guide, let us know! Email

Defining Copyright

What Is Copyright?

Copyright is a form of protection provided to creators of “original works of authorship” by the laws of the United States
(Title 17, U. S. Code). "Original works" include literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This
protection is available to both published and unpublished works. Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do the following:

  • reproduce the work 
  • prepare derivative works based upon the work
  • distribute copies of the work to the public 
  • perform the work publicly
  • display the work publicly

You can read more detail about each of these rights by visiting the links under the "Copyright Laws" tab above.


This information is provided by the library to assist you in making informed decisions about copyright and fair use. It is intended as  a general guideline and an interpretation of current copyright issues. It is not intended, and should not be construed as, legal advice.

Copyright Chart from the Association of Research Libraries

Books Available From the MacPhaidin Library

Here are just a few of the books and ebooks on copyright held by the MacPhaidin Library. We also have access to books on particular topics within copyright law, such as music and copyright, international copyright, and film copyright. To look for other titles, or works on a specific area of copyright law, visit the Library's homepage and use HillSearch to find additional resources.

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