Copyright is a legal right, grounded in the U.S. Constitution, that gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to:
Copyright takes effect immediately once a work has been fixed in tangible form--registration is optional and not necessary--and lasts for 70 years after the death of the author (in the case of works for hire or anonymous/pseudonymous works, 95 works from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter).
Use the tabs at the top of this guide to learn more about common copyright questions at Rice.
One of the most difficult issues for many, when faced with a copyright problem, is simply knowing where to begin -- which parts of the legal rules and doctrines apply to the specific problem?
To deal with this uncertainty, we suggest working through the following five questions, in the order they are presented. They are simple questions, but they are not easy to answer. By working through them in order, it is possible to identify which of the parts of copyright law apply to the specific problem or fact pattern that you need to address.
The five questions that form this framework for copyright analysis are:
This work was adapted from Kevin Smith and Lisa Macklin’s “A Framework for Analyzing any U.S. Copyright Problem,” licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. This guide is also licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
The resources below can help you to further explore copyright and determine if you can use material under U.S. copyright law. Fondren staff are also available for consultation. Contact email@example.com.
Copyright Considerations for Online Courses (Fondren Library)
Copyright Crash Course (University of Texas): Self-paced course designed to allow users to explore certain areas of copyright law individually or as a group.
Fair Use Evaluator (American Library Association Office for Information Technology Policy): Helps you collect, organize, and archive the information you might need to support a fair use evaluation.
Fair Use for Nonfiction Authors (Authors Alliance): Guide designed to empower authors to exercise their right to use source material to further their research and writing goals by helping them to make confident fair use decisions.
Exceptions for Instructors in U.S. Copyright Law (American Library Association Office for Information Technology Policy): Helps you determine if your intended use meets requirements set out in the law. Also helps you collect information detailing your educational use.
Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States (Cornell University):
Copyright Renewal Database (Stanford University): Searchable index of the copyright renewal records for books published in the U.S. between 1923 and 1963.
Digital Image Rights Computator (Visual Resources Association): Digital Image Rights Computator (DIRC) is designed to assist the user in assessing the intellectual property status of a specific image documenting a work of art, a designed object, or a portion of the built environment.
Copyright Timeline: A History of Copyright in the United States (Association of Research Libraries)