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Copyright & Author Rights: Overview

What is Copyright?

Copyright law protects original and creative works, balancing the creator’s rights with the public’s right to certain uses. Copyright gives the owner the exclusive rights to:

  • Reproduce or copy the work,
  • Create derivative works,
  • Distribute copies to the public,
  • Public performance or display, and
  • Modification of the original work.

How to Make a Copyright Evaluation

1. Look for a copyright statement and date to determine whether or not the work is copyrighted. Assume that anything published in 1926 or later has copyright.

2.  If it is copyrighted, then look for a license. If it is licensed, follow the terms of that license or negotiate a new license.

3. If it is not licensed, then determine whether your use is allowable for classroom instruction.

4. If not covered by any of the previous steps, make a fair use evaluation.

5. If the work is copyrighted, there is no license, and your use is not fair or otherwise allowed under copyright law, then you must find the copyright holder and get permission or a license.


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Information here is intended as a guideline and should not be considered professional legal advice.