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Copyright - UMA & OCLS: What is Copyright?

What is copyright?

Copyright is a set of rights provided by the laws of the United States
(Title 17, U. S. Code) to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including
literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, audiovisual and certain other works, including software.

This protection is available to both published and unpublished works that are fixed in a tangible medium.   Copyright does not protect ideas; it protects the expression of ideas. 

The law gives the owner of copyright the following exclusive rights:
• To reproduce the work (i.e. to make copies);
• To prepare derivative works (i.e. to make a movie from a book or to translate a work into another language);
• To distribute copies publicly;
• To perform the work publicly (i.e. a play or movie);
• To display the work publicly; and
• In the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of
digital audio transmission.

The owner of the copyright may transfer all or part of these rights to others. 

Subject to some exceptions described in this guide (including fair use), if a person exercises any of these rights in another’s work without permission, the person may be liable for copyright infringement.