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"Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (Title 17, U. S. Code) to the authors of “original works of  authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works." Taken from Copyright Basics document available at the U.S. Copyright Office website: -

The information provided on this guide is NOT intended to offer or substitute for legal advice. For assistance in determining issues related to intellectual property rights/copyright, please contact one of the librarians atn Nash Library & Student Learning Commons.

  • Copyright law applies to both published and unpublished works. 
  • Works are protected automatically, without copyright registrations
  • Copyright is typically given to creator of a work, unless done for some one or other entity (ex. "works made for hire" or the copyright has been transferred to another (ex. publisher)
  • Copyrighted works can be used with permission from copyright owners.
  • Fair use of a copyrighted work is not infringement of copyright. See the Fair Use tab to learn more in applying the Fair Use factors.

As defined by the U.S. Copyright Office, "a work of authorship is in the 'public domain' if it is no longer under copyright or if it failed to met the requirements for copyright protections. Works in the public domain may be used freely without the permission fo the former copyright owner." 

Public Domain Collections:
U.S. Government - Public Domain Content Links

Additional Collections:

Additional Public Domain collection can be found by searching with quotation marks, for example:

"public domain"

"public domain music"

"public domain video"

Public Domain items do not necessarily need to be cited when used, but check the source/website providing item as they may ask for users to include an attribution statement.

According to the U.S. Copyright Office, "Fair use is a legal doctrine that promotes freedom of expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances." Section 107 of the Copyright Act 

Four factors in evaluating Fair Use:

1. Purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is of a commercial nature or is for non profit  educational purposes. Looks as how the party claiming fair use is using the copyrighted work. This does not mean that all nonprofit educational uses are considered fair use.

2. Nature of the copyrighted work: analyzes the degree to which the work being used relates to the copyright's purpose of encouraging creative expression.

3. Amount and sustainability of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole: considers the quantity and quality of the copyrighted material used.

4. Effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work: reviews whether, and to what extent, the unlicensed use harms the existing or future market for the copyright owner's original work.

Fair Use Tools

"Creative Commons licenses provide an easy way to manage the copyright terms that attach automatically to all creative material under copyright. Our licenses allow that material to be shared and reused under terms that are flexible and legally sound."

Information and examples of the six licenses can be found visiting the Creative Commons page found here -

 Content from the Creative Commons and used under a CC-BY 4.0 license.