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Copyright: Copyright

What is Copyright

Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code) to authors. The owner of copyright has the exclusive right to do and authorize the following:

  • To reproduce the work;
  • To prepare derivative works based upon the work;
  • To distribute copies of the work to the public by sale or transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
  • To prohibit other persons from using the work without permission;
  • To perform the work publicly.

Copyright protection covers both published and unpublished works as well as out-of-print materials. 

Facts, ideas, procedures, processes, systems, concepts, principles or discoveries cannot be copyrighted.  However, some of these can be protected by patent or trade secret laws.

Copyright protection currently lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years.  If there is more than one author copyright protection lasts for the life of the last author's death plus 70 years. 

Copyright Basics, from the U.S. Copyright Office, provides an excellent overview of the copyright law and procedures.

The Western Nevada College Copyright Policy.  "It shall be the policy of Western Nevada College to observe and adhere to the provisions set forth in section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, and any subsequent revisions or additions, including the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the Technology, Education, and the Copyright Harmonization (TEACH ) Act that impact the reproduction of copyrighted materials for educational purposes. It shall also be the policy of Western Nevada College to observe and adhere to the provisions of the Higher Education Act of 2008 that prohibit the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials through illegal downloading or peer-to-peer distribution of intellectual property."


The guide does not supply legal advice nor is it intended to replace the advice of legal counsel. 



The information on this subject guide was adapted from the McGoonan Library of Medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Useful Web Sites

  • U.S. Copyright Office
    "The Copyright Office is an office of record, a place where claims to copyright are registered and where documents relating to copyright may be recorded when the requirements of the copyright law are met. The Copyright Office furnishes information about the provisions of the copyright law and the procedures for making a registration or recordation."
  • U.S. Copyright Information Circulars and Forms
    "Link to the circulars and fact sheets providing basic information about registration, fees, compulsory licenses, and other aspects of the copyright process."
  • Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians (Circular 21 from the U.S. Copyright Office)
  • Crash Course in Copyright
    An excellent resource if you want to learn more about copyright. Georgia Harper from the University of Texas Libraries is responsible for the course content which is updated on a regular basic and licensed under Creative Commons.
  • 10 Big Myths about copyright explained
    Brad Templeton presents the "10" common myths regarding copyright.
  • Copyright Information
    University of Minnesota has put together an extensive website on copyright and fair use.
  • Copyright for Libraries
    A project of the American Library Association providing useful information on using copyrighted material in an academic setting.