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Copyright Overview: Overview

An overview of copyright and related issues.


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Check out these resources for more on copyright.

Copyright and Author's Rights

This is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. If you would like legal advice regarding copyright or your author's rights, contact GSU Legal Affairs.

Copyright is established in title 17 of the U.S. Code and grants authors certain copyrights, sometimes called author's rights, to works they create as outlined in chapter 1 section 106. These include the right:

  • To reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords;
  • To prepare derivative works based upon the work;
  • To distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
  • To perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
  • To display the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work; and
  • In the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.
  • In addition, certain authors of works of visual art have the rights of attribution and integrity as described in section 106A of the 1976 Copyright Act.

Copyright is automatic with creation of the work, though you can transfer your copyrights. Publishers usually ask for transfer of all copyrights through a Copyright Transfer Agreement (CTA) in order to publish books or articles, but authors needn't transfer all of their copyrights for this to occur. The publisher really only needs the right to distribute. Authors should know the Copyright Basics and should learn their rights and how to exercise them as well as consider using an addendum to preserve their author's rights.

Another alternative is to consider using a Creative Commons License especially for items in open access journals or repositories. Creative Commons licensing does not replace copyright, it just lets others use works in certain ways, that author chooses, without them having to ask the author's permission first and encourages creativity, sharing, and innovation. For more information, check out these links:


Portions of this guide were taken in whole, or part, with permission from the Springshare Guide Community Best of Copyright and Fair Use guides: Copyright and Fair Use Guide at NYU PolyCopyright / Plagiarism Guide at UNMCCopyright and Fair Use at Bush Memorial Library.