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This is the "Copyright Law" page of the "Copyright and Fair Use" guide.
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Copyright and Fair Use  

Information on copyright law and fair use in an academic setting.
Last Updated: Nov 19, 2012 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Copyright Law Print Page


The purpose of this guide is to provide faculty, staff, and students at Georgia College with an understanding of copyright law and fair use.

While copyright issues can be complex, everyone needs to understand the basics. Failure to comply with copyright law can lead to substantial legal penalties for both you and the university.



The GC Library and Instructional Technology Center observes copyright and fair use guidelines from the University System of Georgia as defined in the Regents Guide to Understanding Copyright and Educational Fair Use.

For distance education questions, see The Regents Guide to the Teach Act


Copyright on Campus Video by Copyright Clearance Center


Copyright Law Defined

Copyright law, as defined in Title 17 of the United States Code, protects "original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression" for a limited period. Copyright protection includes, for instance, the legal right to publish and sell literary, artistic, or musical work, and copyright protects authors, publishers and producers, and the public.  Copyright applies both to traditional media (books, records, etc.) and to digital media (electronic journals, web sites, etc.). Copyright protects the following eight categories of works:

  1. literary works
  2. musical works
  3. dramatic works
  4. pantomimes and choreographic works
  5. pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
  6. motion pictures and other audiovisual works
  7. sound recordings
  8. architectural works

Ownership of a copyrighted work includes the right to control the use of that work. Use of such work by others during the term of the copyright requires either permission from the author or reliance on the doctrine of fair use. Failure to do one or the other will expose the user to a claim of copyright infringement for which the law provides remedies including payment of money damages to the copyright owner.

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Jolene Cole
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Georgia College & State University
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Special Thanks to Ingrid Redman for creating a large part of this great guide.


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