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U.S. Copyright Law was written to protect the rights of authors to the works they have created. As you conduct and document your research, make sure to follow the rules for attributing ownership of other authors’ intellectual property. When you publish your thesis or dissertation, you have the right to apply for a copyright to protect your own work.

Copyright Basics

“Copyright” literally means the right to copy. The term has come to mean the body of exclusive rights granted by law to authors for protection of their work.

What is a “copyright”?

According to the U.S. Copyright Office, a copyright is “a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States for original works of authorship, including literary, dramatic, musical, architectural, cartographic, choreographic, pantomimic, pictorial, graphic, sculptural, and audiovisual creations.”

How do copyrights protect authors?

U.S. Copyright Law stipulates that the owner of a copyright has “the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, and, in the case of certain works, publicly perform or display the work; to prepare derivative works; in the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission; or to license others to engage in the same acts under specific terms and conditions.”

What is not covered under copyright?

The U.S. Copyright Office specifies that copyright protection does not extend to an idea, procedure, process, slogan, principle, or discovery.

Governmental Resources

The U.S. Copyright Office is a department of the Library of Congress. The departmental website includes a number of research tools and informational brochures and factsheets.

Other Copyright Resources

IUP and other universities maintain useful web resources on copyright law and procedure.

Resources for registering a copyright or acquiring permission to use copyrighted material.

Copyright Resources for Teaching Assistants

Graduate students employed as teaching assistants set an example of the appropriate use of copyrighted materials in their classrooms. The Association of Research Libraries maintains a useful website, Know Your Copy Rights, designed to raise awareness of the proper use of copyrighted materials on university campuses across the nation. The site also includes information for faculty and teaching assistants.

The brochure and flyer are © 2007 by the Association of Research Libraries and are available for re-use under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.

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