"Copyright is the exclusive right to make copies, license, and otherwise exploit a literary, musical or artistic work, whether printed, audio, video, etc."(Dictionary.com). This means that in order to be entitled to copyright protection, the work has to be something you created (and didn't copy from another work) and set down in some physical form, like in writing, on videotape, in a sound recording, in a computer program or on a computer screen.
The creator of a work is protected by copyright for the following:
For more details about what each of these five areas of copyright mean, please see this PDF available free through the World Intellectual Property Organization © WIPO, 2016.
The term “public domain” refers to creative materials that are not protected by intellectual property laws such as copyright, trademark, or patent laws. The public owns these works, not an individual author or artist. Anyone can use a public domain work without obtaining permission, but no one can ever own it.
There are four common ways that works arrive in the public domain:
Every country has its own rules about when a copyrightable work enters the public domain. Be sure to check copyright policy if you are working outside of the United States, as it may vary from from what is discussed in this guide.
For more details about public domain, please see this site (Welcome to the Public Domain, 2019).
"Fair Use" is the right of the public to make reasonable use of copyrighted material in special circumstances without the copyright owner's permission. The United States Copyright Act recognizes that fair use of a copyrighted work may be used "for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research."
Apply the following test when deciding if Fair Use applies to your situation:
Fair Use is not always straight forward, and it is better to be cautious when a concern over whether an item qualifies or not arises. Where there is doubt about whether something qualifies for the fair use exception, you should request a license from the copyright holder (Copyright Terms & Definitions, 2019).
If you have any questions or concerns about whether or not fair use applies to the work you would like to use, please do not hesitate to contact Kettering University Legal Staff for assistance.
Learn more about Fair Use and Intellectual Property in the United States Constitution here.
© 2019, The Copyright Society of the USA. Copyright Terms & Definitions. (n.d.). Retrieved June 17, 2019, from https://www.csusa.org/page/Definitions#copyright
For Kettering University's full copyright policy, approved by the Executive Committee of the Kettering University Board of Trustees, please see the following link: