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Using Copyrighted Materials in Instruction: Copyright in General

Covers copyright in general, exceptions, permissions, licensing, ereserves, course management systems


Copyright is a large field, and this guide only covers a small part. The primary focus of the guide is on use of copyrighted materials by University System of Georgia instructors operating under the University System of Georgia Copyright Policy. Contact the Georgia State University Office of Legal Affairs with questions in general or about specific situations.

Copyright Myths

Copyright is complicated, and that leads to a number of myths that are not accurate. The following are NOT TRUE:

  • You can copy something if you just give attribution.
  • It is always legal to copy up to a certain percent or portion of a work.
  • Works on the internet are in the public domain and can always be copied.
  • If there is no copyright notice, the work is not copyrighted.

What can be copyrighted?

  • Literary works
  • Motion pictures & other audiovisual works
  • Musical works
  • Dramatic works
  • Sound recordings
  • Pictorial, graphic, & sculptural works
  • Pantomimes, choreographic works, architectural works
  • Compilations of above works

What cannot be copyrighted?

  • Not in fixed tangible form of expression
  • Titles, names, short phrases, slogans
  • Familiar symbols/designs; mere variations in typographic ornamentation, lettering, coloring
  • Mere listings of ingredients or contents 
  • Ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts, principles, discoveries, devices
  • Consisting entirely of information that is common property with no original authorship
  • Works by U.S. government employees as part of their employment

How does one get copyright?

  • Copyright conferred upon creation & fixation of new works
  • Notice - not required – but recommended
    • © Year Author (e.g.© Bob Smith 2020)
    • Registration is not required, but it has advantages
      • Required for suit
      • Statutory Damages


Exclusive Rights Conferred by Copyright