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O'Kelly Library Reference
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What is Copyright?

A copyright is a form of intellectual property right granted by the U.S. law, Title 17 of the U.S. Code, to serve as an incentive to create for the public good and meant to expire so creations could be progressed and built upon. 

Items protected under copyright include literary works, artistic creations, sound recordings, audiovisual works, dramatic and musical works, and published and unpublished works.

Items not protected include ideas, procedures, methods, titles and slogans*, works in the public domain, works consisting entirely of facts with no original authorship (i.e. white pages), and works created by the US Government.


*Slogans can be trademarked which is a different kind of protection.

Exclusive Rights of Copyright Creator

As a copyright holder, you have the following exclusive rights*:

  1. To reproduce copies of your copyrighted work;
  2. To prepare derivative works based on your copyrighted work;
  3. To distribute copies of the copyrighted work to the public;
  4. To perform the copyrighted work publicly (in the case of literacy, audiovisual, musical, dramatic works etc.)
  5. To display a copyrighted work publicly; and
  6. To perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of digital audio transmission in the case of sound recordings.

*Exclusive rights are listed under Chapter 1, Section 106 of the Copyright Law, subject to sections 107 through 122.

Guide Disclaimer

The information in this guide should not be used to substitute legal advice.