Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code) to authors. The owner of copyright has the exclusive right to do and authorize the following:
- To reproduce the work;
- To prepare derivative works based upon the work;
- To distribute copies of the work to the public by sale or transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
- To prohibit other persons from using the work without permission;
- To perform the work publicly.
Copyright protection covers both published and unpublished works as well as out-of-print materials.
Facts, ideas, procedures, processes, systems, concepts, principles or discoveries cannot be copyrighted. However, some of these can be protected by patent or trade secret laws.
Copyright protection currently lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years. If there is more than one author copyright protection lasts for the life of the last author's death plus 70 years. Copyright protection for materials created by a business may last for 95 years from publication.
Memorandum on Copyright Law and Compliance was written for the University of Nebraska four campuses. It is the responsibility of all faculty, staff, and students to abide by the guidelines presented and utilize the Fair Use Checklist to ascertain if copyrighted materials are being used "fairly" for education and research purposes.
Click on Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States for more information. The Digital Slider is also a useful tool to assess copyrighted materials that are now in public domain.