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Loyola University Chicago Libraries

Copyright Resources

This guide will cover the basics of copyright, rights that both authors and users have, and specific exceptions that apply to educational use.

Copyright Basics

What is copyright?

Copyright is a form of intellectual property law that protects original works of authorship. It is a set of exclusive rights provided to the copyright holder that allow them to control certain uses of their copyright-protected works or creations. 

What does copyright protect?

Under U.S. law, copyright protects creative original works that are in any tangible form:

  1. literary works;
  2. musical works, including any accompanying words;
  3. dramatic works, including any accompanying music;
  4. pantomimes and choreographic works;
  5. pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
  6. motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
  7. sound recordings; and
  8. architectural works. (17 U.S.C. § 102.)

Some examples are: books, photographs, poems, plays, dances, movies, musical compositions, and computer programs.

Material on the web also has copyright protection, including images, content from media sharing websites, music and videos.

What is not protected by copyright?

What's not protected: ideas, titles, concepts, industrial designs and facts, such as data. (17 U.S.C. § 101.) Works created by the federal government are also not protected by copyright. Copyright also does not protect works for which the copyright term has expired.

Copyright Holder

Who holds copyrights?

Generally, authors automatically own the copyright to their work. The authors of a joint work are co-owners of copyright in the work. However, work that is done for your employer is often considered a "work for hire" and the employer owns the copyright.

Loyola University Chicago, as a Jesuit institution of higher education, respects the creative works and intellectual property of students, faculty, and staff. This means that created works from instructors, staff and students are covered by copyright.

How long does copyright last? 

Copyright lasts a limited number of years. Currently, copyright lasts for the life of the author plus an additional seventy years.

For works made for hire and anonymous and pseudonymous works, the duration of copyright is 95 years from first publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter. (United States Copyright Office.)

The length of copyright terms has changed over time, so it is not the same for all copyrighted works. 

How do I get a copyright?

You can register your work at the U.S. Copyright Office: Registration Portal.

In the United States, copyright is automatic the moment a work is transfixed in a tangible medium. Registration is not required.