Welcome to the Copyright Guide!

What is Copyright?

Copyright is the lawful right of an author, artist, composer or other creator to control the use of his or her work by others in a limited time. A copyrighted work may not be duplicated, disseminated, or appropriated by others without the creator's permission.

A major limitation on copyright is that copyright protects only the original expression of ideas, and not the underlying ideas themselves. Copyright is a form of intellectual property, applicable to certain forms of creative work.

Copyright gives creators of an original piece of work some control over how their works should be used, which is not only fair but necessary for them to make a living from their talent and efforts.

When they have the means to make a living from their work, then they can continue to invest their time, and, in the case of publishers, their money into the production of new work.

By assigning the exclusive right to copy and distribute original works to creators, copyright laws ensure that the holders of the copyright can earn income from their work.

Authors may either sell, rent or license their own works or give permission to others to use them and collect royalties. Such income allows creators to continue their activities and produce new works.

Copyright protection exists for “original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression, which can be perceived, reproduced or otherwise communicated".

To be “fixed in a tangible medium of expression,” the work must be recorded in some physical medium, such as on paper or audio tape. Works of authorship include the following:

  • literary works;
  • musical works, including accompanying words;
  • dramatic works, including accompanying music;
  • pantomimes and choreographic works;
  • pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
  • motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
  • sound recordings;
  • andarchitectural works.

Types of Copyright

The law gives the owner of copyright the following exclusive rights:

  • To reproduce the work (i.e. to make copies);
  • To prepare derivative works (i.e. to make a movie from a book or to translate a work into another language);
  • To distribute copies publicly;
  • To perform the work publicly (i.e. a play or movie);
  • To display the work publicly;
  • and In the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.

The owner of the copyright may transfer all or part of these rights to others. Subject to some exceptions described in this guide (including fair use), if a person exercises any of these rights in another’s work without permission, the person may be liable for copyright infringement.

Scope of Copyright

Copyright may apply to a wide range of creative, intellectual, or artistic works. Specifics vary by jurisdiction, but these can include poems, theses, plays and other literary works, motion pictures, choreography, musical compositions, sound recordings, paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, computer software, radio and television broadcasts, and industrial designs.

Graphic designs and industrial designs may have separate or overlapping laws applied to them in some jurisdictions. Copyright does not cover ideas and information themselves, only the form or manner in which they are expressed.

In many jurisdictions, copyright law makes exceptions to these restrictions when the work is copied for the purpose of commentary or other related uses (See fair use).

Copyright laws are standardized somewhat through international conventions such as the Berne Convention and Universal Copyright Convention.

These multilateral treaties have been ratified by nearly all countries, and international organizations such as the European Union or World Trade Organization require their member states to comply with them.

Authors rights

The author here means creator, composer, artist, sculptor, architects, etc. whose creativity led to the protected work being created. Authors’ rights are a part of copyright law.

Authors’ rights have two distinct components:

  • The economic rights in the work: Property right which is limited in time and which may be transferred by the author to other people in the same way as any other property. They are intended to allow the author or their holder to profit financially from his or her creation, and include the right to authorize the reproduction of the work in any form.
  • The moral rights of the author: The protection of the moral rights of an author is based on the view that a creative work is in some way an expression of the author’s personality. The moral rights are therefore personal to the author, and cannot be transferred to another person except by testament when the author dies.

The Library Copyright Alliance (LCA) consists of three major library associations — the American Library Association, the Association of Research Libraries, and the Association of College and Research Libraries. These three associations collectively represent over 300,000 information professionals and thousands of libraries of all kinds throughout the United States and Canada. These three associations cooperate in the LCA to address copyright issues that affect libraries and their users.

Exceptions to Copyright

There are some exceptions to what copyright will protect. Copyright will not protect:

  • Names of products;
  • Names of businesses, organizations, or groups;
  • Pseudonyms of individuals;
  • Titles of works;
  • Catchwords, catchphrases, mottoes, slogans, or short advertising expressions;
  • Listings of ingredients in recipes, labels, and formulas, though the directions can be copyrighted.

How to Get Copyright

Copyright protection begins as soon as a work is created. Copyright is secured automatically when a work is "fixed in a tangible medium of expression." This means that the work must exist in some physical form for at least some period of time, no matter how brief.

Copyright does not protect ideas that are not expressed in tangible form. Written works, photographs, and computer files are all examples of tangible media.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a not-for-profit organization that provides free tools that let authors, scientists, artists, and educators easily mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry. You can use CC to change your copyright terms from "All Rights Reserved" to "Some Rights Reserved." Creative Commons helps you legally share your knowledge and creativity to build a more equitable, accessible, and innovative world.

Fair Use

Fair Use is a legal doctrine that portions of copyrighted materials may be used without permission of the copyright owner provided the use is fair and reasonable, does not substantially impair the value of the materials, and does not curtail the profits reasonably expected by the owner.

AMR Library Copyright Policy

To ensure that all members of the GUST Community adhere to requirements relating to the copying, communication or performance of copyrighted material; and that the Community members make fair and legal use of copyrighted material in their study, research, and teaching activities.