Copyright and Fair Use: the Basics

Resources for Basic Copyright Information-- this is not legal advice.

Copyright Law

Copyright in the United States-- the short version

"Works of authorship" covered by copyright include:

writing (both formal and informal), including laboratory notes, literature

Internet pages, presentation slides or other presentation files, computer programs

music (written or recorded)

art and most images, including photographs and computer-generated images.

These are all covered by copyright.

But the work MUST be original and fixed and it might include some elements (such as data) that are NOT copyrighted. Generally, copyright runs for the life of the author + 70 years*

  For more details, see Circular 92: Copyright Law of the United States

Sections 102-104, Subject matter of copyright
Sections 302-305, Duration of copyright

These things are not covered by copyright in the United States:

  • Data
  • Ideas that have not been "fixed"
  • Presentations that have not been recorded

However, these should be attributed to the author, creator or generator even if they have never been written down, or plagiarism may be an issue.

Other works of authorship:

Inventions = protected by patent law

Business and product names = protected by trademark law

Trade secrets = protected by contracts and trade secret law

Notice! This is NOT legal advice.

Please be advised: Information and/or links provided on this site are not and do not constitute legal advice and are for informational purposes only.  Seek legal advice from a licensed attorney to address any legal questions or concerns.