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Copyright Guide: Copyright Law

2020 Copyright Guide



Title 17 of the United States Code is the Copyright Law. For a substantial period of time, for example, the author's lifetime plus 70 years, it protects “original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression.” There is protection that includes legal rights of art, musical work, authors, publishers, producers, and the public.  There are exceptions as the copyright law is theoretically not meant to discourage creativity or inventiveness.  Copies of materials can be made for single, personal, educational uses.

Kutztown University Copyright Policy

We follow all applicable US federal copyright law (See: Title 17) as clarified by the fair use guidelines

Fair Use


The library provides faculty, staff, and students at Kutztown University how the copyright and fair use laws work. If you fail to follow these laws, then legal action will be required. If you are a member of the Kutztown University community and have any questions, please feel free to ask your questions here.

This guide has been created to explain some aspects of copyright and to offer examples of acceptable uses of copyrighted materials. While every efforts has been made to ensure its accuracy, it should not be construed as counsel or legal advice. Consult an attorney for advice concerning your specific situation.

Copyright Law Defined


Copyright law, as defined in Title 17 of the United States Code, protects "original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression" for a limited period. Copyright protection includes, for instance, the legal right to publish and sell literary, artistic, or musical work, and copyright protects authors, publishers and producers, and the public. Copyright applies both to traditional media (books, records, etc.) and to digital media (electronic journals, web sites, etc.). Copyright protects the following eight categories of work:

  1. Literary Works
  2. Musical Works
  3. Dramatic Works
  4. Pantomimes and Choreographic Works
  5. Pictorial, Graphic, and Sculptural Works
  6. Motion Pictures and Other Audiovisual Works
  7. Sound Recordings
  8. Architectural Works

If you have ownership of a copyright work, then you are able to use it. It requires either permission from the author or reliance on the doctrine of fair use. If failed to do so, then it will result in money payment of damage to the copyright owner.