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Copyright and Fair Use: Copyright Overview

A primer on the U.S. Copyright Act and Fair Use.

Copyright Questions?

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This guide provides a basic primer about copyright and fair use for instruction.  If you have specific questions, please e-mail


These pages were created to provide basic copyright information and are not a substitute for legal advice.


Copyright is. . .

Protection that is provided by law (title 17, U.S. Code) to the authors/creators of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic and certain other intellectual works.


Copyright laws were created to provide balance and protect the rights of creators and users of copyrighted content.

Rights of the Copyright Owner

Section 106 of the U.S. copyright law grants the owner the exclusive right to:

  • reproduce the work
  • prepare derivative works based upon the work
  • distribute copies of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending
  • perform the work publicly
  • display the copyrighted work publicly
  • in the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of digital audio transmission
  • in the case of a “work of visual art” the author has certain rights of attribution and integrity

Subject Guide

Sandy DeGroote's picture
Sandy DeGroote
Professor & Scholarly Communications Librarian