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For more information about Copyright, please visit the CPTC Copyright LibGuide

Copyright Law

Copyright is about protecting creators. Whenever someone creates something new by putting pen to paper, choreographing a dance, designing a graph, or taking a photo — it is theirs from the moment of its creation forward. And the creator's rights to benefit from that work (literary, artistic, musical, dramatic, written or unwritten) — financially or otherwise — is protected by law.

Copyright law protects authors from having their works copied without their permission. (Title 17 of the United States Code; Copyright Act of 1976).

When the creator of a work dies, the rights to benefit from a work passes to his/her family and continues for 70 years after the creator's death; at that point, the work enters the 'public domain.'

“Copyright Law.” Evaluating Internet Information, Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia,

Copyright on Campus (Video)

Copyright on Campus

Copyright on Campus video image

This video, created by the Copyright Clearance Center, explains how copyright law should be followed in higher education. 

US Copyright Office Circulars

Circulars are published by the Copyright Office to provide up-to-date and authoritative information to a general audience. Circulars are arranged below by topic and cover the basics and fundamental concepts of copyright law, highlights of policies and procedures of the Copyright Office, and registration issues for specific categories of works. For full details regarding the Office’s policies and procedures, refer to the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices, third edition.”

Creative Commons

The content contained in this video is available under the Creative Commons Attribution- ShareAlike License v 3.0 ( unless otherwise stated. The work is attributable to: Victor Grigas, Wikimedia Foundation.

What is Creative Commons? 

Creative Commons develops, supports, and stewards legal and technical infrastructure that maximizes digital creativity, sharing, and innovation. 

What do Creative Commons Licenses do? 

The Creative Commons copyright licenses and tools forge a balance inside the traditional “all rights reserved” setting that copyright law creates. These tools give everyone from individual creators to large companies and institutions a simple, standardized way to grant copyright permissions to their creative work. The combination of  tools and  users is a vast and growing digital commons, a pool of content that can be copied, distributed, edited, remixed, and built upon, all within the boundaries of copyright law.

License Help

Creative Commons provides a helpful tool to help you choose which license is right for you through a series of questions. 

The Licenses 

Creative Commons License Logo for Attribution CC BY


This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered. Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials.

Legal Code for Attribution

Creative Commons License Attribution - ShareAlike CC By-SA Logo



This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to “copyleft” free and open source software licenses. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use. This is the license used by Wikipedia, and is recommended for materials that would benefit from incorporating content from Wikipedia and similarly licensed projects.

Legal Code for Attribution-ShareAlike

Creative Commons License Attribution-NoDerivs Logo



This license lets others reuse the work for any purpose, including commercially; however, it cannot be shared with others in adapted form, and credit must be provided to you.

Legal Code for Attribution-NoDerivs

Creative Commons License Attribution-NonCommercial Logo



This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.

Legal Code for Attribution-NonCommercial

Creative Commons License for Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike logo



This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.

Legal Code for Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

Creative Commons License for Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs logo



This license is the most restrictive of our six main licenses, only allowing others to download your works and share them with others as long as they credit you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.

Legal Code for Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs

Information Courtesy of 

Attribution and OER

Although OER are free to be used, one of the key tenets of that usage is attribution. Depending on the specifics of a resource's licensing terms, you will at least need to acknowledge the work's creator. 

A lack of specific attribution instruction does not mean that a work should not be attributed. Rather, you must put together an attribution statement to the best of your ability. This statement should include:

  1. Any copyright notices posted by the copyright holder
  2. Some form of identification of the author (a screen name is acceptable if you cannot locate an author name)
  3. The name of the resource
  4. The license, and if possible, a link to the license terms
  5. If you have made any changes to the resource, a statement that this is a derivative work

Public Domain

Public Domain refers to creative materials that are not protected by intellectual property laws such as copyright, trademark, or patent laws. The public owns these works, not an individual author or artist. Anyone can use a public domain work without obtaining permission, but no one can ever own it. 

Stim, Richard. “Welcome to the Public Domain.” Stanford Copyright and Fair Use Center, Stanford University Libraries, 24 Apr. 2019,

Works in the Public Domain may be there because:

  • created before copyright laws 
  • its copyright protection has expired
  • it never had copyright protection or its protection was lost
  • it was dedicated to the public domain

Items Never Covered by Copyright:

  • works created by the U.S. Government
  • reprints of works in the public domain
  • ideas, facts, and common property
  • federal laws and court decisions
  • words, names, slogans, and phrases
  • most blank forms
  • recipes, discoveries, procedures, and systems 

Just because an item is old doesn't guarantee that it is part of the public domain. If you're at all uncertain, get permission from the creator or owner to use or copy the work.

For a detailed table about the different terms for copyright versus public domain, visit Copyright Term and the Public Domain the United States