Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Internet Explorer 11 Will No Longer Be Supported as of November 20, 2020. Read More...

Scholarly Communication Services - Copyright: Essentials


Copyright protects the rights of creators who make an original work in a fixed medium (U.S. Copyright Office, 2016). It also allows creators (or owners of copyright) to distribute, perform, reproduce, display, sell, or make derivatives of their work.

Basic knowledge of copyright is essential for students, researchers, and anyone else who wants to protect their intellectual work.  It is also important in order to ethically (and legally) re-use the work of others.


Copyright protects the fixed expression of ideas, such as:

Copyright does not protect ideas on their own, such as:


  • Literary works
  • Musical works
  • Dramatic works
  • Pantomimes and choreographic works
  • Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
  • Motion picture and other audio-visual works
  • Sound recordings
  • Architectural works

  • Facts
  • Procedures
  • Processes
  • Systems
  • Method of operation
  • Concept
  • Principle or discovery

Need copyright information for teaching and learning purposes?  See the following LibGuide:

Disclaimer:  The FAU Libraries and its faculty, staff, and administration are not attorneys and cannot interpret the law.  This information is provided for educational purposes only and does not substitute for advice from legal counsel. 

Source:  U.S. Copyright Office (2016).  Copyright law of the United States

Also in This Guide:

Copyright Essentials

Federal Laws & Info

Copyright and Related Concepts in Plain Language

Public Domain, Creative Commons, and Free Cultural Works

Applying for Copyright & Reusing Copyrighted Work

The FAU Libraries does not secure permissions to reuse copyrighted work*.  Consult the following links for guidance.

If you created the work, see if you still hold the copyright or if you transferred it to a publisher.  Refer to any contracts you may had signed such as a copyright transfer agreement (CTA) and what it allows for reuse or sharing.

*Exceptions: items added to Course Reserves and requested for Interlibrary Loan.

Find a Copyright Holder or Status

  1. Determine the date of publication or creation:  look at the work’s verso (author, publisher, ISSN, etc.).
  2. Consult with finding aids to locate a copyright from U.S. Copyright Office (texts) or Copyright Alliance for music and other works; see the links below.
  3. For old works (published in 1925 or before), consult with the public domain checklists or Hirtle Chart (Cornell University Library, Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the U.S.,

Copyright @ FAU

Books in the Library