Copyright: An introduction
Copyright is both complex and confusing. Many people have questions about what can be used--as well as when and where and how to use--without violating copyright. Others have questions about their copyrights as a creator of material. And still others need information on how and when to seek permission to use copyrighted material. This guide helps you answer those questions and more.
In this guide you will find information on
Use the navigation tabs on the left to find more information for your copyright question or need. You will find helpful tools and guides listed under Resources for many of the sections
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 one's own creative works.
If you don't find what you are looking for, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org Typically we respond within 24 hours, Monday - Friday.
Image credit: Copyright machine by Dr. Mo. Available at https://www.deviantart.com/doctormo/art/Copyright-Machine-139430827
What is copyright?
Copyright is a U.S. federal law (US Code Title 17) that provides protection to creative and intellectual works. Copyright holders, typically authors or creators, have certain exclusive rights to their works. These exclusive rights mean that other people cannot copy or distribute their works unless the copyright holder grants permission. There are several exceptions to these rights and these are covered in this guide under fair use, classroom use, and library use.
What is copyrighted?
U.S. Copyright law protects an original work that is in a fixed, tangible medium. A fixed, tangible medium can be anything that is written down, recorded, or published.
All of these examples are copyrighted:
Anything that is
1. In the public domain or
2. Is NOT fixed in a tangible medium
What Rights Do Copyright Owners Have?
Copyright owners have a bundle of rights. They can