What Should Authors Do?
- Early on, think about how you plan to use and disseminate your work
- Get permission to reuse content that was created by others
- Properly credit all authors whose work you reuse
- Consider registering your works with the US Copyright Office
- If you publish with a publisher, use a publisher willing to negotiate to allow authors to retain certain rights
- Carefully review all publishers' copyright agreement forms
- Attach an addendum if necessary, in order to retain rights
- Keep a record of all signed documents
- Comply with any publisher restrictions on use
What kinds of things are copyrighted? Copyright protects any “original works of authorship” that are somehow "fixed" in time and space - e.g., written down, posted on the web, scribbled on a cocktail napkin. All of these are copyrighted:
- Letters, emails, text messages
- Prepared speeches
- Digital or print photographs
- Web sites
- Music, audio recordings, films
- Plays, dances, artwork
Who owns copyright?
- The person(s) authoring the work generally owns the copyright.
- Works created by an employee, in the course of his/her employment, are generally owned by the employer. This is a "work for hire."
What cannot be copyrighted?
- Things that are not “fixed”: Impromptu speeches; singing in the shower.
- Factual information: Weights & measures, lists, addresses, dates…
- Inventions, slogans: This is what patents & trademarks are for.
How long does copyright last? A long time – generally speaking, copyright lasts 70 years after the life of the author. If a work is created by a corporation or employer, copyright lasts 95 years past the publication date. See this site for more information.
What kinds of things are no longer covered by copyright? Works published a long time ago – before 1923 – are no longer covered by copyright. These are thus said to be in the “public domain.” There are other ways to release a copyright, intentionally to share works with others, such as Creative Commons.
Copyright vs. Plagiarism: Copyright is different from plagiarism – “plagiarism” is an appropriation of someone else’s work without giving proper credit. You can plagiarize without infringing a copyright.