What is copyright?
Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works.
What does copyright protect?
Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section "What Works Are Protected."
How is a copyright different from a patent or a trademark?
Copyright protects original works of authorship, while a patent protects inventions or discoveries. Ideas and discoveries are not protected by the copyright law, although the way in which they are expressed may be. A trademark protects words, phrases, symbols, or designs identifying the source of the goods or services of one party and distinguishing them from those of others.
When is my work protected?
Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.
What is fair use?
Fair use allows limited use of copyrighted material without permission from the copyright holder for purposes such as criticism, parody, news reporting, research and scholarship, and teaching. While many educational uses may be fair, you need to evaluate your use each time you are reproducing copyrighted material — to show in your class, to hand out copies, or to include in your writing.
What are the four factors?
1. Purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
2. Nature of the copyrighted work, such as whether the work is fiction or non-fiction, published or unpublished;
3. Amount of the work used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
4. Effect of the use upon the potential market for the copyrighted work.
You have to apply the four factors to each use situation. Just because your use is for non-profit educational purposes does not automatically give you permission to copy and distribute other people's work.
What is the character of use?
How much of the work is being used?
If the type of use was widespread, what effect would it have on the market for the original?
What works are excluded from copyright protection?
What's in the public domain?
Works in the public domain are: