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Copyright & Fair Use

Subject to sections 107 through 122 of the U.S. Code, 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.

U.S. Code, Chapter 17:  Copyright

What is Copyright?
Copyright is a form of protection provided by U.S. law providing exclusive rights that belong to the creators of "original works of authorship", which only they can legally use or authorize others to use.

What can be Copyrighted?

Examples of copyrightable works include:

• Literary works

• Musical works, including any accompanying words

• Dramatic works, including any accompanying music

• Pantomimes and choreographic works

• Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works

• Motion pictures and other audiovisual works

• Sound recordings, which are works that result from the fixation of a series of musical, spoken, or other sounds

• Architectural works

These categories should be viewed broadly for the purpose of registering your work. For example, computer programs and certain “compilations” can be registered as “literary works”; maps and technical drawings can be registered as “pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works.”

What Cannot be Copyrighted?

Copyright does not protect:

• Ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts, principles, or discoveries

• Works that are not fixed in a tangible form (such as a choreographic work that has not been

notated or recorded or an improvisational speech that has not been written down)

• Titles, names, short phrases, and slogans

• Familiar symbols or designs

• Mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or coloring

• Mere listings of ingredients or contents

For more information, see Works Not Protected by Copyright (Circular 33).

Plagiarism vs. Copyright Infringement: Is There A Difference?

This video from Copyright Clearance Center is part of a “Copyright Answers” series of videos on copyright-related topics. Find more at their YouTube channel at www.YouTube/CopyrightClear.

Examples of Possible Copyright Violations

  • The use is commercial (promoting a product or service, charging to access the copyrighted material, advertisements)
  • Nature of the material used is imaginative and/or unpublished
  • The majority of the material will be reused or posted (for example, an entire book or chapter instead of a quoted sentence)
  • Use detrimentally impacts the market for the original work
  • Use was “fair” at one time, but has been repeatedly reused or more widely distributed, or the copyright owner has requested that the use be limited or discontinued. For example, use of a portion of a journal article or a photo may have been Fair Use one time, but used annually for the same event or purpose, loses its Fair Use character

Adapted from the Colorodo State University Copyright 101 guidelines


You can learn more about copyright damage for infringement from 17 U.S. Code § 504 - Remedies for infringement: Damages and profits.


Copyright Information for Authors and Creators

There's lots to understand about your rights as an author or creator. 

To best explain all that is involved with holding copyright, we want to refer you to the NYU Libraries guide all about Copyright for Authors and Creators

Learn More about Copyright

Still confused by copyright?  Want to learn more?  Check out these resources and guides:

Association of College & Research Libraries guide on all things Copyright here 

U.S. Copyright Office 

Copyright Crash Course from the University of Texas Libraries

Learn more and test your knowledge of copyright with the Copyright Crash Course created by Georgia Harper. The new version of the fantastic guide to copyright covers copyright basics, fair use, TEACH Act, and more.

Copyright Basics - A handout from the U.S. Copyright Office

Copyright Basics From NYU Libraries

This guide focuses on Copyright and Fair Use in an academic setting, and includes an excellent page with guidelines for faculty using resources in classrooms.  The faculty guidelines also often apply to committees and other collaborative groups sharing information for educational and research purposes that meet fair use guidelines.

Copyright in the Classroom 

From the Ohio State University Copyright Resource Center a series of podcast lectures on copyright law.

CopyTalk Webinars 

Series of webinars on a variety of copyright topics presented by the American Library Association Office of Information Technology Policy.

Additional Reading On Copyright


The intent of this guide is to provide employees of Cincinnati Children's with information pertaining to copyright law and fair use.  In no way does this guide constitute, or take the place of, legal counsel.  This guide was compiled for educational purposes only.  Any content presented on other's sites are for user's convenience only and Pratt Library and/or Cincinnati Children's does not take responsibility for anything presented on these third party sites.