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Copyright: Getting Started

Trying to organize a lesson plan and not sure what copyright allows you to use?

What's in this Guide

Welcome to the Copyright Quick reference!

This guide provides examples and links to useful sites and tips on how and what you can do with copyright, fair use, and other copyright questions.  You can use the tabs above or select from the list below.



What is Copyright?

Copyright is a limited, statutory monopoly; or more simply copyright sets limits on how one may use someone else’s intellectual property.   Copyright includes exclusive rights for users (fair use, making copies, classroom use, etc.).  Items that fall into Public Domain do not have exclusive rights and can be used as is deemed fit by the user.


  Exclusive rights   Exemptions of Copyright

·                 Right to reproduce in copies


·                 First sale


·                  Right to distribute to the public


·                  Fair use


·                  Right to create derivative works


·                  Photocopying for libraries


·                  Right to display publicly


·                  Teaching exemptions


·                   Right to perform publicly


·                  Computer programs


·                  Etc.

Credo on Copyright

AskALibrarian_for 267 column

Public Domain

Public Domain are any works which are not covered by copyright law.

  • Published before 1923
  • Published between 1923-1963, but the copyright wasn't renewed.
  • Works published before 1977 that did not have the appropriate copyright notice.

Be sure that when you think of works published pre-1923 that you do not post publisher's editions and additions.  Introductions and critical essays in classical novels are almost always copyrighted, check before you copy and distribute.