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Copyright Essentials

An introduction to copyright issues for the NMSU community. This guide does NOT supply legal advice nor is it intended to replace the advice of legal counsel.

Introduction: Copyright and the University

Copyright law attempts to strike a balance between protecting the rights of authors/creators and protecting the need for public access to information and ideas.

The work of the University involves accessing, building upon, and sharing information in order to create new knowledge. Copyright affects much of what we do at NMSU. Here are some examples:

  • showing a film in a face-to-face class
  • compiling readings for an online class
  • sharing a journal article you have written with your colleagues 
  • performing a piece of music you have written
  • getting permission to use images for your dissertation
  • designing a multimedia work based on other works
  • determining who "owns" a course you have created

This guide is designed as a basic informational resource for the NMSU community. It is not a substitute for legal advice. Instead, it provides a framework for understanding and working with legal issues, including lawfully using and sharing copyrighted works, as well as protecting our own creative works.

U.S. Copyright Law

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:

(1) to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords;
(2) to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work;
(3) to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
(4) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works, to perform the copyrighted work publicly;
(5) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to display the copyrighted work publicly; and
(6) in the case of sound recordings, to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.

Still have questions?

For NMSU students, faculty, and staff whose copyright questions are not covered by this guide:

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