Copyright Basics

What is protected by copyright?

Copyright protects original works fixed in a tangible medium. Works protected include: literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works. It does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation.

What is the difference between copyright infringement and plagiarism?

Plagiarism is taking a person’s work and claiming it is your own. Copyright infringement is using a person’s work without permission from the person. Both are illegal and dishonest.

What are the penalties of copyright infringement?

DMCA is an organization that investigates copyright infringement cases. It is a case by case penalty, but common penalties are paying for the copyright use and/or taking down the copyrighted material. It is up to the discretion of the person being infringed upon and the level of infringement.

How long does copyright last? Can it be extended?

This is dependent on the publication date for the work created. As a general rule, works owned by a person last the life of the author and then seventy years after that. Copyright may be renewed for some works, again depending on the year of publication.

What is the copyright for works in other countries?

Many countries, including the United States, belong to the Berne Convention or the Universal Copyright Convention. As such, most works created in other countries can be protected by the U.S. copyright law. Works created outside the U.S. are still subject to the copyright law of their country.

Using Works from Others

If it's online, can I use it?

Placing copyrighted material on the internet does not give permission to duplicate or redistribute the material.

Do I need permission to copy works I already own a personal copy?

Ownership of a copyrighted protected work does not give you the rights as the owner of the copyright. You may own a copy of a work without owning the copyright of the work.

Is it ok to use an image found online?

All copyright apply to all media, whether found digitally or printed. Permission must be sought before using any copyrighted works.

If I am using a work for education, do I need permission?

The classroom exemption section does allow for some use of copyrighted material. But this is the exception not the rule.

Is it fair use if I’m only using a small portion of the work?

One of the four factors of fair use is amount, but that does not automatically make your use fair use. You must do a full fair use analysis before claiming fair use.

How do I know if something is copyrighted or not?

Copyright is any original work fixed in a tangible medium and is automatically protected by copyright from the moment of creation. It is best to assume a work is copyrighted and then research if the copyright exists or has been renewed.

How do I know who owns the copyright?

You may research the owner of a copyrighted work through the U.S. Copyright Office records.

How do I obtain permission to use a work?

You may ask for it. You can ask the owner of the work directly or work through the U.S. Copyright Office. If you are part of the BYU-Idaho community, you may ask the Intellectual Property Specialist.

My Copyright

Do I need to register a work for it to be copyrighted?

A work is automatically considered to be copyrighted once it is expressed in a tangible medium. Registration is a voluntary action. However, there are benefits to registering a work, such as proof of ownership.

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How do I register my copyright?

There are forms with the U.S. Copyright Office that can be filled out online or in person to register your copyright.

Registration Portal

What do I do if I find someone is using my copyrighted work without permission?

When your personal work is being infringed on, you may file a civil law suit at a local district court. You may also contact BYU-I's Intellectual Property Rights Specialist for help concerning this.

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What do I do if I receive an infringement notification?

Do not ignore a copyright infringement notice. It can only make the problem worse. The best course of action will be to seek legal counsel of some sort. You may contact the BYU-I Intellectual Property Rights Specialist about this and they will help you.

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