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Student Copyright Guide

This guide is an overview of copyright law, terms, and practices.

What is Copyright?

Copyright protects original works and intellectual property. A work does not have to be published or registered to be protected—copyright automatically applies as soon as the work is created/expressed in a fixed or tangible way. Copyright laws give creators/authors the exclusive right to reproduce, sell, and publish their works.

Copyright is signified with the symbol "©," although works do not require the display of the symbol to be protected.

Generally, copyright lasts during the entirety of the author’s life, plus 70 years after their death. When it expires, the works enter the public domain.

The basis for copyright comes from Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 in the U.S. Constitution, which gives Congress the ability “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”