Copyright and other intellectual property issues can be complex. None of the information or links provided should be substituted for the advice of an attorney
What is copyright?
In the United States, the idea for Copyright was embedded in the U.S. Constitution in Article 1, Section 8, which describes the powers of Congress.
"Congress shall have Power...To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries"
According to U.S. Copyright Law, copyright protects works of original authorship that are fixed in a tangible expression. This includes broad categories of literary works, musical works, dramatic works, visual (pictorial, graphic, and sculptural) works, pantomime and choreographical works, motion pictures and other audiovisual works, sound recordings, and architectural works. Copyright takes effect immediately once a work has been fixed in a tangible form - registration is not necessary - and lasts for 70 years after the death of the author, or, in the case of works for hire or anonymous/pseudonymous works, 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter.
Copyright gives the author the following exclusive rights:
What is NOT protected by copyright?
Fair use allows users of copyrighted works the right to exercise without permission some of the rights normally reserved for copyright owners. This concept is used as a defense in a court of law. Determining what might be considered a fair use in court can be an uncertain process, but these tools can assist you in assessing your use of a copyrighted work.
When evaluating whether a use is fair, four factors are taken into consideration:
No one factor is decisive - all four factors must be met.
Additionally, under factor 1, whether or not the use is transformative has become an important consideration for Fair Use evaluations. Here are three questions to ask yourself to help determine whether your use is transformative (from the Framework for Copyright Analysis tab):
Here are a few resources that go into Fair Use in more detail: