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Academic Integrity Awareness Week

Copyright- What You Need to Know to Avoid Violating It

Copyright

Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works​

 

Copyright may be an issue when dealing with:

  • Journal articles, or excerpts from them
  • Books, or excerpts from them
  • Databases and electronic journals 
  • Musical works, scores, lyrics, and sound recordings
  • Pictorial/graphic works, art, sculpture, photographs
  • Audiovisual works, motion pictures, videos, video games
  • Computer software

Who owns the copyright to a work?

In most cases, the author or creator of the work is the copyright holder unless they have transferred the rights to someone else through a written agreement, such as a publishing agreement.

How can I tell if a work is still under copyright? How long does copyright last?
 

Depending upon when a work was created, it is subject to different requirements regarding copyright notice and registration, as well as different copyright terms. Under current U.S. law, copyright lasts until 70 years after the death of the author. For works made for hire, the copyright term is either 95 years from the date of publication, or 120 years from the date of creation, whichever is shorter.

 

Receive permission from the author of a work before using it

Fair Use

Various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.

Use these 4 factors to tell if Fair Use applies:

  • the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes.
  • the nature of the copyrighted work.
  • the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole.
  • the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Warning: There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.

Avoiding Plagiarism

How is copyright related to plagiarism?

Plagiarism is best defined as the unacknowledged use of another person’s work. It is an ethical issue involving a claim of credit for work that the claimant did not create. One can plagiarize someone else’s work regardless of the copyright status of that work.

Copyright infringement, on the other hand, is the unauthorized use of another’s work. This is a legal issue that depends on whether or not the work is protected by copyright in the first place, as well as on specifics like how much is used and the purpose of the use. If one copies too much of a protected work, or copies for an unauthorized purpose, simply acknowledging the original source will not solve the problem. Only by seeking prior permission from the copyright holder does one avoid the risk of an infringement charge.

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