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Copyright & Fair Use

The purpose of this guide is to provide faculty, staff, and students at UW-Parkside with an understanding of copyright law and fair use.

While copyright issues can be complex, understanding the basics helps avoid legal penalties for both you and the university.

Disclaimer:  This guide is not intended to replace the advice of legal counsel and should not be taken as legal advice.

Copyright Basics

What is copyright?

The goal of copyright law, as grounded in the U.S. Constitution, is to promote the progress of science and the useful arts.

Copyright is a form of protection granted to authors that provides them with certain exclusive rights for a limited period of time. These rights are intended to encourage authors to create, thereby providing society with valuable works.

The limitation on the length of copyright (as well as other limitations such as fair use) balances the benefits of incentives for authors with the benefits of allowing the public to make use of copyrighted materials in a free and democratic society.

Public Domain

A public domain work is a creative work that is not protected by copyright and which may be freely used by everyone.

Works fall into the public domain for three main reasons:

  • the term of copyright for the work has expired;
  • the author failed to satisfy statutory formalities to perfect the copyright or
  • the work is a work of the U.S. Government.

See Copyright Term & the Public Domain created by Cornell librarians to determine whether a work falls into public domain.

Exclusive Rights

The owner of copyright has the exclusive right to do and authorize the following:

  • To reproduce in copies
  • To create derivative works based upon the original
  • To distribute copies to the public
  • To prohibit other persons from using the work without permission
  • To perform or display the work publicly.

Copyright protection covers both published and unpublished works as well as out-of-print materials.

UW-System General Counsel on Copyright                           

UW-Sytem General Counsel on Copyright FAQs                       

United States Copyright Office

In addition to the full text of the Copyright Law of the United States, a great deal of additional information on copyright can be found on the website of the United States Copyright Office.

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