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Last Updated: Aug 23, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Copyright in the Constitution

"The Congress shall have the Power...To promote the Progress of Science and the useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;..."

United States Constitution, Article I. Section 8. Clause 8.


Rights of Copyright Holders

  • To reproduce the work in copies,
  • To create derivative works based upon the original work,
  • To distribute copies of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending,
  • To perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomines, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
  • To display work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomines, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, inlcuidng the indivudal images of a motion picturesand other audiovisual work; and
  • In the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.

Exceptions to the Permissions Requirement in the Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S. Code


Copyright Basics (U.S. Copyright Office

  • Copyright Basics (US Copyright Office)
    This document from the US Copyright Office explains the basics of copyright, including a detailed explanation of what qualifies as a notice of copyright.

Copyright-Related Web Sites

  • American Society of Media Photographers
    Great basic information for creative people, including a good short video about how to register your copyright.
  • Center for the Study of the Public Domain
    This site from the Law School of Duke University will keep you up to date on the current status of public domain issues and has a great selection of videos about Creativity and Culture.
  • Copyright & Fair Use (Stanford University Libraries)
    Comprehensive overview of fair use, including up to date news, detailed overview of fair use, and charts & tools to help you determine fair use.
  • Fair Use Evaluator
    A short online program of questions to help you assess your case for fair use of copyrighted content. It creates a PDF of your input that you can file with your records.
  • Public Domain Sherpa
    Reader-friendly site all about the public domain and copyright.
  • Public Domain Slider
    Cool online tool that helps determine if something is now in the public domain.
  • U.S. Copyright Office
    Information about copyright, forms to register works, links to look up a copyright holder.

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