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Copyright: Home

About this guide

Purpose of this guide is provide faculty, staff, and students at Angelo Sate University with understanding of copyright law and fair use. This guide does not supply legal advice nor is it intended to replace the advice of legal counsel

What is Copyright?

According to the U.S. Copyright Office, 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  Copyright covers both published and unpublished works."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 law, as defined in Title 17 of the United States Code, protects "original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression" for a limited period. Copyright protection includes, for instance, the legal right to publish,reproduce and sell literary, artistic, or musical work.

Copyright applies both to traditional media (books, records, etc.) and to digital media (electronic journals, web sites, etc.). Copyright protects the following eight categories of works:

literary works
musical works
dramatic works
pantomimes and choreographic works
pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
motion pictures and other audiovisual works
sound recordings
architectural works

Ownership of a copyrighted work includes the right to control the use of that work. Use of such work by others during the term of the copyright requires either permission from the author or reliance on the doctrine of fair use. Failure to do one or the other will expose the user to a claim of copyright infringement for which the law provides remedies including payment of money damages to the copyright owner.

Not covered

The following can not be copyrighted, but can be protected by patent or trade secret laws

  • Facts
  • Ideas
  • Names
  • Titles
  • Short Phrases
  • Procedures
  • Processs
  • Systems
  • Concepts
  • Principles
  • Discoveries