This guide is intended to provide CSU-Pueblo faculty, staff, and students with an understanding of copyright law, fair use applications, and intellectual property law.
Copyright law balances the interests of creators, readers, and publishers by governing the ways in which a person's original creation can be used, what permissions are required, and legal exceptions. Copyright issues can be complex, but failing to understand the basics is not an excuse. Failure to comply with copyright law can lead to substantial legal penalties for you and the university.
DISCLAIMER: Nothing on these pages should be construed as legal advice.
Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the Constitution (Article 1, Section 8), and granted by law (including the 1976 Copyright Act and 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act) that covers both published and unpublished original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression.
Copyright protects original works of authorship fixed in a tangible form of expression. The copyright office names eight categories and advises they be interpreted broadly. For example, computer software programs are considered "literary works," while maps or architectural plans may be registered as "pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works." The categories are listed below.
Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed. It also does not protect data (although it may protect the ways data is expressed, like graphs and charts).
As the copyright holder, you have the exclusive right to do and authorize others to do the following:
These rights can be transferred in whole or in part to other entities through a written and signed contract.
As soon as a work is created in a fixed medium (e.g., written down, graphed, coded), the work is copyrighted and belongs to the creator(s). There is no need to register the work to obtain copyright. If the creator wishes to publish or distribute the work, they may sign a contract with a publishing or recording company. The company will need to acquire some or all of the copyrights in order to edit, print, copy, and sell the work.
If the creator(s) transfer full copyrights to another entity, this entity can claim copyright infringement for unlawful copies, modifications, or distributions of the work. The creator(s) are no longer to make copies or distribute the work (even for classroom use) without permission of the copyright holder.