Copyright is a form of protection provided by U.S. law to creators of original works of authorship. This protection incentivizes creation and enables a limited period for financial compensation. An original work of authorship is copyrighted the moment it is fixed in a tangible form of expression—be it paper or digital, published or unpublished.
The following types of works are protected by copyright:
A copyright owner has the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do the following:
The current term of copyright for an original work of authorship is the life of the author plus 70 years.
(U.S. Copyright Office. Copyright Basics http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf)
If there is no © symbol on a work, is it okay to use without permission?
An original creative work is copyrighted as soon as it is set in a tangible medium. The copyright symbol is not required to designate copyright status. Assume a work is copyrighted until you can determine otherwise.
If I'm using a copyrighted work for educational purposes, that's Fair Use, right?
Not necessarily. Fair Use is an interpretation of your use of copyrighted material made on a case-by-case basis using a Four Factor analysis. Each case will be different, even in an educational setting. Read more.
Where can I find images that I can use without permission?
There are several possible sources of images that may be usable without permission. These include your own images, UMMS-owned images, public domain images, and images labeled or licensed for re-use by their owners. Read more.
Download the full FAQ sheet! (Originally prepared by Barbara Ingrassia, 2013).