"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 right to reproduce (copy), distribute (license), make derivatives of the work, publicly display and perform the work.
Here are a few common misperceptions (and corrections) about copyright law basic principles.
1. The internet is fair game.
2. No © = no copyright.
3. Use in teaching = fair use.
2. Determine who owns the rights.
3. Contact the rights owner for permission to use the work.
Further information: How to Obtain Permission (United States Copyright Office)
These are basic guidelines and do not represent legal advise.
Please seek legal counsel for questions related to copyright and fair use.