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About This Guide


Welcome to the Copyright Subject Guide 

The sections in this Guide are designed to inform the TWU community on Copyright, Fair Use and related topics. It is not intended as legal advice nor is it meant to replace the advice of legal counsel.

Copyright protection exists from the moment a work is created in a fixed, tangible form of expression. The copyright immediately becomes the property of the author who created the work. Only the author, or those deriving their rights through the author, can rightfully claim copyright. In the case of works made for hire, the employer—not the writer—is considered the author.

-- Copyright Clearance Center

Copyright Basics (Copyright Clearance Center)

Who Owns Copyright?

 -- Copyright Clearance Center: Copyright Education Series Foundations Workbook 2006.

What is Protected?

  • Literature
  • Music and Lyrics
  • Drama
  • Pantomime and Dance
    Pictures, Graphics, Sculpture
  • Films
  • Sound Recordings
  • Architecture
  • Software

"In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work."

-- U.S. Copyright Office

Relevant U.S. Copyright Codes

Creative Commons Licensing

What our licenses do

The Creative Commons copyright licenses and tools forge a balance inside the traditional “all rights reserved” setting that copyright law creates. Our tools give everyone from individual creators to large companies and institutions a simple, standardized way to grant copyright permissions to their creative work. The combination of our tools and our users is a vast and growing digital commons, a pool of content that can be copied, distributed, edited, remixed, and built upon, all within the boundaries of copyright law.
  --- Creative Commons

First Sale Doctrine

The physical ownership of an item such as a book, painting, manuscript or CD is not the same as owning the copyright to the work embodied in that item.

Under the First Sale Doctrine (Section 109 of the Copyright Act), ownership of a physical copy of a copyright-protected work permits lending, reselling, disposing, etc., of the item. However, it does not permit reproducing the material, publicly displaying or performing it, or engaging in any of the acts reserved for the copyright holder. Why? Because the transfer of the physical copy does not transfer the copyright holder's rights to the work. Including an attribution on a copied work (for example, putting the author's name on it) does not eliminate the need to obtain the copyright holder's consent. To use copyrighted materials lawfully, you must secure permission from the applicable copyright holders or a copyright licensing agent.

  --Copyright Clearance Center

Scholarly Communication Librarian

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Amanda Zerangue
Amanda Zerangue, MLS, JD
TWU Libraries
P.O. Box 425528
Denton, TX 76204
(940) 898-3747

Credit and Thanks

Credit and thanks to Butler University Libraries and Access Services & Digital Commons Librarian, Brad Matthies who created the original version of this copyright guide adapted for use at TWU. Additionally, thanks to the following Universities for use of some of their copyright documentation: Stanford, San Jose State, Texas, Columbia, Michigan, Georgia, Cornell, Harvard, Xavier, Bucknell, and North Carolina.