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Copyright Guide for DVC Faculty

This research guide is intended to let faculty know the basics about copyright and fair use, and how it applies to their course materials.

What is Copyright?

Copyright is a form of intellectual property protection provided to creators of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works.

Copyright protects any original work of authorship that is in tangible form, regardless of whether or not a notice of copyright appears on the work. Tangible form may include anything written on paper, recorded, performed, or hosted in an electronic medium.

Copyright protects
Copyright does not protect
Copyright protects: Literature Drama Music Art Imagery Graphic Design Sculpture Architecture Choreography Pantomime Motion pictures Sound recordings Copyright does not protect:  Ideas  ​Facts  Data  Concepts  Systems  Methods  Principles  Discoveries  Names, Titles, Short Phrases

Rights of a Copyright Holder

A copyright holder has the exclusive right to decide who can:

  • make a copy of the work, which includes photocopies and digital copies
  • publish copies or electronically distribute the work
  • perform or display the work in public
  • prepare derivative works, which means using the original work as the basis for a new work

Copyright Law in Academia

The Copyright Act (17 USC §§ 101 et seq.) includes numerous exceptions that limit the exclusive rights of copyright holders and permit instructors to use copyrighted work without seeking permission from the copyright holder. These exceptions include The Classroom Exception, codified at § 110(1), The Teach Act, codified at § 110(2) and the Fair Use Doctrine, codified at § 107.