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Copyright and Accessibility: Copyright and Ownership

Resources on copyright and accessibility

Role of Copyright

The role of copyright in the flow of research is undergoing dramatic and exciting change. The options for scholarly communication have never been broader or more effective. You'll find discussion of copyright woven all through important aspects of research and teaching, such as:

  • the training of AI and use of AI output
  • the use of others' works in the classroom, in fieldwork, and the laboratory
  • building on the works of others to create new works
  • open source software development
  • use and reuse of datasets
  • Creative Commons licensing
  • open access to research results and its acceleration of the pace of scientific discovery
  • the digitization of books in the public domain and digital access to works still in print as well as orphan works
  • the resulting opportunities to discover knowledge that's been hard to access in the past

What Can Be Copyrighted?

Copyrightable expression is original authorship, fixed in a tangible medium of expression.

Examples of copyrightable expression, assuming they are original, could be: poetry; prose; software applications; artwork; musical notation; recorded music and/or song; animations; video; a web page; blog posts and comments; architectural drawings; or photographs.

Examples that do not qualify as copyrightable expression: facts; exact duplications of public domain works; ideas; systems; works created by employees of the Federal Government; titles and short phrases; logos and slogans; or forms that only collect information (rather than provide information).

Protecting Your Work

Protecting your work is easy today. It's protected from the moment you hit the save key on your computer, touch your pencil to paper, brush to canvas, etc. Works are protected from the moment of their fixation in a tangible medium of protection. This means that notes taken during a lecture enjoy the full force of federal copyright law for the life of the author plus 70 years.

If you want to go the extra mile to make sure you can enforce your rights in federal court, you'll need to register your automatic copyright with the Copyright Office. You can learn all you need to know to register copyrights at the Copyright Office's website. It's relatively inexpensive and fast, but it's only necessary if you think it likely that you would sue someone to stop an infringement of your rights.

Creative Commons license logo indicating a broad Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

This page has been reworked from content from Copyright Crash Course created by Georgia Harper at the University of Texas, which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.