"Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States to the authors of 'original works of authorship' that are fixed in a tangible form of expression. An original work of authorship is a work that is independently created by a human author and possesses at least some minimal degree of creativity. A work is 'fixed' when it is captured (either by or under the authority of an author) in a sufficiently permanent medium such that the work can be perceived, reproduced, or communicated for more than a short time. Copyright protection in the United States exists automatically from the moment the original work of authorship is fixed." (Copyright Basics (Circ. 1) U.S. Copyright Office).
Note: Ideas and facts cannot be copyrighted, only the tangible expression in a fixed medium of the idea can.
Copyright protects an author's exclusive right to reproduce (copy), distribute (license), adapt, publicly display or perform the work.
What's the difference between Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement?
Watch this brief video from the Copyright Clearance Center for more on the topic.
Here are a few common misconceptions (and corrections) about copyright law basic principles.
The internet is fair game
FALSE - Copyright laws still apply to material on or from the internet
No © = no copyright
FALSE - A work does not have to be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office to be protected.
Use in teaching = fair use
FALSE - Fair use requires a case-by-case evaluation of how a work is being used to determine if it is a Fair Use.
These are basic guidelines and do not represent legal advise.
Please seek legal counsel for questions related to copyright and fair use.