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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
Digital or print photographs
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.
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.