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Copyright & Fair Use: Home

Copyright Basics

What is copyright?

Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U. S. Code) to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do the following:

  • reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords

  • prepare derivative works based upon the work

  • distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending

  • perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audio­visual works

  • display the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audio visual work perform the work publicly (in the case of sound recordings*) by means of a digital audio transmission

In addition, certain authors of works of visual art have the rights of attribution and integrity as described in section 106 A of the 1976 Copyright Act. For further information, see Circular 40, Copyright Registration for Works of the Visual Arts.

Generally speaking, the 1976 Copyright Act decreed that copyright extended to the life of the author (this term applies to creators of works whether written or not and published or not) plus 70 years.

Guide Authorship

This guide was created by Ellen Little, and it is maintained by Mark Russell

Research and Instruction Librarian

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Mark Russell
Contact:
Barbour Library
PTS
616 N. Highland Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
(412) 924-1393