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Copyright & Fair Use: Introduction to Copyright

Information on Copyright and Fair Use in the Classroom


This guide is meant to assist members of the Canisius College community in making informed decisions about copyright compliance. Please remember that individuals are responsible for ensuring that they use copyrighted materials appropriately and with proper citation.

What is copyright?

Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (under Title 17 of the U.S. Code) to the creators of "original works of authorship" including: literary, scholarly, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other published and unpublished works, once they are "fixed in a tangible form of expression".

Who creates copyrighted material?

Everyone! Stuff you write, make or create is automatically covered by copyright. You have the right to decide who uses your stuff and how it gets used. Section 106 of the law gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to do, and to authorize others to do, the following activities: make copies, prepare derivative works, distribute copies, perform/display the work publicly.

Are there limitations to a copyright holder's rights?
Yes. The rights of a copyright holder are subject to certain limitations & exemptions. As a result, there may be situations which permit the constituents of an accredited, non-profit, educational institution (like Canisius College) to use materials without having to seek permission. 

How long does a copyright last? 
The U.S. Copyright Office says "the term of copyright for a particular work depends on several factors, including whether it has been published, and, if so, the date of first publication. Once a copyright expires, the work becomes part of the "Public Domain" and can be used freely.

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If you need an article that Canisius does not own or one we only have in print, place a request 
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