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Copyright Information: The Basics

Your guide to information & resources on copyright.

Copyright is part of the larger discussion of intellectual property. Below are answers to frequently asked questions along with the basic U.S. Code that reflects copyright and intellectual property holders' rights.

Intellectual Property Rights

Intellectual property rights include copyright, trademarks, and patents, are important to the discussion of academic integrity, and are legally protected.

According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), intellectual property is "any mental creation: “inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs.”1

A copyrighted work is one that is original with a minimum level of creativity and "fixed" in some permanent medium (Title 17); and copyright provides the creator of a copyrighted work certain rights.

Why is knowing about copyright important? You want to make sure you are not using someone else's copyrighted work without permission, unless your use of it falls under certain exemptions (and then you'll want to be sure). And you may want to know if something you have created is protected under copyright law.

1. "Wha t is Intellectual Property?" WIPO, n.d.,

Copyright Status: For Owners & Users

To secure copyright, one needs:

  • Originality
  • Fixation (see Title 17, 102)

Registration used to be needed, but no longer, but can be done.

Sections 101 through 106 of U.S. Code Title 17 detail the copyright owner's rights.

You'll need to start by asking these questions:

  • Is the work is published or unpublished?
  • When was the work published, if it was?
  • Has the creator passed away & when?

You can visit this site for more information:

For more information about identifying works that are not copyrighted or that have licensing that allows you nonetheless to use them, visit our page on the Public Domain and Creative Commons Licensing.

Frequently Asked Questions Answered Here

For ODU policies on copyright ownership, see the Faculty and Employee manuals.

US Code & Constitution

Links and Tips provided by Carla Myers, Coordinator of Scholarly Communications, Miami University, in Copyright Bootcamp 1: The Foundations [webinar], August 2021.