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Copyright & Fair Use: Copyright Basics

What is Copyright?

undefined Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States to authors of "original works" that are fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works.  Copyright does not protect ideas; copyright protects the expression of ideas.

Under copyright law, the copyright owner is granted the following exclusive rights:

• To reproduce the work (i.e. to make copies);
• To prepare derivative works (i.e. to make a movie from a book or to translate a work into another language);
• To distribute copies publicly;
• To perform the work publicly (i.e. a play or movie);
• To display the work publicly; and
• In the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.

The owner of the copyright may transfer all or part of these rights to others. Subject to some exceptions described in this guide, including Fair Use, if a person exercises any of these rights without permission of the copyright holder, that person may be liable for copyright infringement. 

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Sara Grozanick, Alyson Pope, Maureen Diana Sasso