What is copyright:
Copyright is rights given to a copyright owner or holder (an author, a filmmaker, a musician, or even a publisher) for an original and creative work fixed in a tangible medium of expression (an article, a book, a movie, a recording, a website, and more).
What are these “exclusive rights” under U.S. Copyright Law?
Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act gives the owner of copyright to do and authorize the following:
What does copyright protect?
Copyrights protects “An original and creative work fixed in a tangible medium of expression”. Any work that is tangible can be protected and allows various tangible formats this protection. It is broad and touches multiple disciplines. According to the U.S. Copyright Office’s helpful publication, Copyright Basics (Circular 1), these are some of the types of works that can be protected under U.S. Copyright Law:
What is not protected by copyright?
According to US Copyright Title 17:
Are images protected under copyright law?
Yes. The U.S. Copyright Office states that
Copyright protects ‘original works of authorship’ that are fixed in a tangible form of expression. The fixation need not be directly perceptible so long as it may be communicated with the aid of a machine or device. (Copyright Basics [Circular 1])
“Original works of authorship” include “tangible forms of expression” such as “pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works.” In simpler words, copyright covers any and all images in any format, including digital images.
According to the U.S. Copyright Office’s, the rights of copyright owners are subject to limitations. These limitations are outlined in Sections 107 through 118 of the U.S. Copyright Law.
Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.
Section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law provides four factors to consider when considering whether the use of copyrighted works is fair use.
Although the purposes listed above include "multiple copies for classroom use," photocopying a textbook rather than asking students to purchase the book would most likely be found an infringement of copyright. Photocopying an article for class discovered the night before a pertinent lecture would more likely be considered fair use. For further discussion of fair use see U. S. Copyright Office Fact Sheet FL 102.
The public domain is not a place. A work of authorship is in the “public domain” if it is no longer under copyright protection or if it failed to meet the requirements for copyright protection. Works in the public domain may be used freely without the permission of the former copyright owner.
Am I allowed to use work in my classroom?
US copyright law allows teachers and students to make certain uses of copyrighted works in face-to-face teaching. As a teacher or student, you are allowed to perform or display a copyrighted work without permission in “a classroom or similar place devoted to instruction” during face-to-face teaching at a nonprofit educational institution.
If the work is a motion picture or other audiovisual work, you must use a copy of the work that was lawfully made.