US Copyright: Your rights as a copyright owner

The Copyright Act gives all authors a set of rights including the right to make copies, to prepare derivative works, to publicly distribute, display and perform the work, and in the case of digital sound recordings, to perform the works over a digital network.

The law provides some breathing room so that the public can benefit from the increased numbers of works that are covered. To use those works, the public enjoys rights to display their own copies, to lend them or give them away, even to sell them, and to reproduce parts of the works in certain circumstances, even to reproduce the entire work in some cases, as a fair use. For more information, read Fair use of copyrighted materials.

Your rights go on for your lifetime, plus 70 more years.

Your copyright exists from the moment you create some original expression that is fixed in a tangible medium. It's automatic. You needn't register your copyright or even put a notice on your work. Once you hit the "save" key, put pen to paper, brush to canvas, or record anything, it's protected completely.

Academics usually don't depend on the income from creating papers, texts or other resources. We may have to pay to get our papers published and rarely make royalties from textbook sales. So we may not need the full a set of rights attached to everything we do. We could get by with rules that mainly require that we be acknowledged as the author of our works. We can, as authors, do more to clear up the ambiguity of what rights are encompassed in the statute's grant to the public, fair use. We can say precisely what we are willing for them to do without our permission, and what our conditions might be. Creative Commons makes this easy. Read Copyright management to learn more.        

Creative Commons Licence
PILOT - Copyright edited by Marion Kelt and based on Copyright Crash Course by University of Texas Libraries is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License. Based on a work at