At its most basic, copyright is simply the “right to copy.” These rights are exclusive to the copyright owner, allowing him/her to reproduce (copy, scan) and communicate (email, put on internet) the creative material (literary, artistic, musical, etc.) in a manner that he/she has control over. Only the copyright owner can license or sell these rights to someone else.

Copyright is important because it gives creators control over their works. This means they can decide who uses their work, how it can be used, and if they will charge a fee to other people who want to use it. This gives creators the ability to control how their works are used or disseminated.

U.S. Copyright law exists to promote the progress of Science and the useful Arts. The law accomplishes this by protecting the rights of authors and creators of literary, dramatic, musical, artistic and other intellectual works while providing specific exceptions for educational purposes.

U.S. Copyright Law: General Resources

In the video below, Jane the librarian educates her university colleagues about copyright law and its impact on the academic institution’s use of intellectual property. This video is made available for your use by the rights licensing experts at Copyright Clearance Center. You can view it in its original location here.