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Copyright & Public Domain: Home

This guide discusses the basics of copyright for students.

The Basics

Copyright Basics

What is copyright?

• Copyright is federal law under Title 17 of the United States Code.

• It gives authors the right to control the use of their works.

• A copyrighted work must be "fixed in a tangible medium," meaning other people must be able to read, see, or hear the expression. 

Why is it important?

• It encourages the dissemination of knowledge.

• It protects authors, inventors, and creators' rights to reproduce and market their works within a specific time frame. 

How long does copyright last?

• The current term is the life of the author plus 70 years. 

• If it is a corporate author the term is 95 years from the date of the first publication or 120 years from the date of creation (whichever comes first). 

• For more information about copyright terms, please see this chart by the Cornell Copyright Information Center. 

Overall: works protected by copyright cannot be copied, used, or modified in any way without asking permission. 


Jeannette Glover's picture
Jeannette Glover
Russell Learning Resource Center
23235 N. County Highway 22
Canton, IL 61520
(309) 649-6603

Creator Attribution

Created by Marla Turgeon