Copyright basics for instructors, authors, and students.


  • The contents of this page do not constitute legal advice or a legal opinion
  • The information resources listed here have been compiled from a variety of sources

Getting Started

This guide is intended as an introduction to copyright for faculty and students. Understanding copyright and what it means for you is more important than ever as both technology and the law change.

A common pitfall is to assume that because we are part of a university, all of our information use falls under Fair Use or education exemptions. It's important to understand that this is not always the case.

Please reach out with your copyright questions to

If you have questions about scholarly communications, publishing, open access, or how the library can support your scholarly work, please email

More Information

Copyright protects the tangible form of expression created by an author. These forms of expression include text, art of all kinds, film, sound, and architectural works. Ideas, processes, and facts are not protected by copyright. Works created by the U.S. federal government are not protected by copyright.

Copyright law gives authors certain exclusive rights. Authors can keep these rights, share them with others, or give them away. Sharing and giving away these rights happens through the use of licenses and contracts. These rights include

  • Making copies of the work, which includes photocopies and digital copies
  • Publishing copies or electronically distributing the work
  • Publicly performing or displaying the work
  • Preparing derivative works (like translations or scripts based on books)