Copyright

What is copyright?

Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U.S. Code) to the authors of original works of authorship, including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do the following:

  • To reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords;
  • To prepare derivative works based upon the work;
  • To distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease or lending;
  • To perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
  • To display the copyrighted work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work; and
  • In the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.

In addition, certain authors of works of visual art have the rights of attribution and integrity as described in section 106A of the 1976 Copyright Act. For further information, request Circular 40, Copyright Registration for Works of the Visual Arts.

It is illegal for anyone to violate any of the rights provided by the copyright law to the owner of copyright. These rights, however, are not unlimited in scope. Sections 107 through 121 of the 1976 Copyright Act establish limitations on these rights. In some cases, these limitations are specified exemptions from copyright liability. One major limitation is the doctrine of "fair use," which is given a statutory basis in section 107 of the 1976 Copyright Act. In other instances, the limitation takes the form of a "compulsory license" under which certain limited uses of copyrighted works are permitted upon payment of specified royalties and compliance with statutory conditions. For further information about the limitations of any of these rights, consult the copyright law or write to the Copyright Office.

What does all this have to do with information technology services?

What this means is that, unless you have written permission from the original creator, you may not make and share copies of your computer programs, music CD's or other copyrighted material. Likewise, you may not download music or software files that are not designated as "shareware" without paying for or receiving specific permission to do so. In fact, FPU has installed a program called Audible Magic to block the illegal transfer of copyrighted material via our network.

What if I want to make a compilation CD of songs from CD's in my personal collection?

You may make copies of CD's (or computer software, for that matter) that you personally own to be used as a backup. You may not sell or give away copyrighted material, unless you have paid for the right to reproduce it.