J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library

Understanding Copyright

Copyright is a form of intellectual property law that secures authors or creators certain exclusive rights over their works for a limited period of time. Works can include writings, both fiction and non-fiction, illustrative works; video and audio content.

Copyright protection is automatic from the instant a work is created in a tangible medium. Neither publication or formal registration with the U.S. Copyright Office is required (although registration can be beneficial to the rights holder in the event of infringement.).

While copyright holders have exclusive rights over the reproduction and dissemination of their works, the Copyright Law provides limitations on these rights for certain uses, including some educational and scholarly uses.

Copyright can be complex and vague, but the library can assist you in finding the information you need to make an informed decision about your copyright needs. 

Our Copyright Guide provides more details.

Additional Resources