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Copyright Information

The University of Central Missouri adheres to all applicable Copyright Laws outlined in Title 17 of the United States Code. This guide outlines applicable copyright laws as they apply to Fair Use and the TEACH Act.

Copyright Explained in Brief

Copyright pertains to a property right given to an author/creator that allows them to control, protect, and disseminate their artistic works. Authorship must be performed by a human being and does not include that which was produced by nature, animals, or plants. 

Statutory basis for copyright is found within Title 17 of the United States Code (U.S.C.). However, be aware that interpretation of the code provisions as they relate to copyright can vary by judicial circuit. Additional information on copyright law is provided by the United States Copyright Office through publications, "circulars", about copyright law. These can be found at    

The primary objective of copyright is not to reward the labor of authors, but "to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts" as illustrated by the case of Feist Publications, Inc. v. Rural Telephone Service Co. (U.S. 1991). Thus in certain situations and settings it is permissible that the creative work by an author/creator can be used by others without compensation. 

Additional information on copyright can be found at the page Frequently Asked Questions about Copyright

Information on intellectual property can be found in the UCM Board of Governors Intellectual Property Rights Policy

Copyright - A Bundle of Rights

There are a number of rights that an author/creator has over their created work. Rather than visualizing copyright as one single right, it is helpful to envision these rights as a bundle of rights that are interconnected with each other. 

Copyright provides the author/creator with the right to: 

  • reproduce the work
  • prepare derivative works from the original work
  • distribute copies of the work either by sale or transfer of ownership, rental, lease, or lending
  • perform the work publicly
  • display the work publicly
  • and, for sound recordings the right to perform the work publicly via digital audio transmission

Interestingly, copyright not only bestows the above rights to the author/creator it also allows the author/creator the right to authorize others to exercise those same rights, typically through licenses, but subject to certain statutory limitations. 

This information can be found within title 17 U.S.C. § 106


Protected or Not by Copyright

Within 17 U.S.C. § 102 there are a total of eight categories that constitute works of authorship: 

  1. literary works;
  2. musical works, including any accompanying words;
  3. dramatic works, including any accompanying music;
  4. pantomimes adn choreographic works;
  5. pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
  6. motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
  7. sound recordings; and 
  8. architectural works.

What is not included consists of the following as noted in 17 U.S.C. § 102 and Copyright Circular 34:

  • ideas;
  • procedures;
  • processes;
  • systems;
  • methods of operation;
  • concepts;
  • principles or discoveries, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in the work
  • names;
  • titles,
  • or short phrases

Idea Expression and Copyright

Notably, copyright protects the expression of an idea, but not the idea itself. This is pretty intuitive. Copyright is designed to protect art not the idea art is based on. So, just because copyright protect the Harry Potter stores does not prevent another person from writing a completely unique story about a boy wizard using magic to fight evil. The law protect's J.K. Rowling's specific telling of that story, but not all the ideas that are contained within it. 

Plagiarism versus Copyright

Just remember, there is a significant distinction between plagiarism and that of copyright. Plagiarism is the failure to give proper attribution to the original work of a creator when someone is using the original creator's thoughts, words, or ideas in a secondary work. Copyright infringement is using some or all of a copyrighted work without the original creator's permission, or without an exception that allows the individual to use the work. 

It it could be argued that these could overlap with each other, remember that they do not serve the same purpose. It is 100% possible to be in copyright infringement even if you properly cited the source. Conversely, the opposite is also true where just because it is permissible under copyright it may still be considered plagiarism.  

The best protection in avoiding both a charge or plagiarism and/or a charge of copyright infringement is to always provide attribution for the work being used, source citation, and to also assess if you have the right to use the work under copyright law. 

Some helpful sources in determining the difference between plagiarism and copyright can be found in the following post from Plagiarism Today and also within this post from Purdue University's Online Writing Lab on recognizing plagiarism. Additionally, Bill Hume, our Sciences liaison librarian at JCKL has put together an informative resource on Plagiarism

Warning of Copyright Restrictions


The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of the copyright materials. Under certain conditions specified in the law, library and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be “used for any purpose other than in private study, scholarship, or research.” If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of “fair use,” that user may be liable for copyright infringement. The Yale University Library reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order, if, in its judgement fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law.

37 C.F.R. §201.14