BB 551: Research Integrity in the Sciences

Professor Pamela Weathers

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Copyright: The Basics

The copyright holder is granted the right to: 

  1. Reproduce all or part of the work
  2. Distribute copies
  3. Prepare new (derivative) versions based on the original work
  4. Perform and display the work publicly
  • Copyrighted works created after January 1, 1978 are, in general, protected until 70 years after the death of the author.
  • Whether or not something is out of print does not impact whether it is protected by copyright.
  • Works published after March 1, 1989 are not required to carry a copyright notice in order to be protected under law.
  • Copyright of a work must be registered with the United States copyright Office if the copyright holder wishes to sue for an infringement.

Fair Use

Fair Use is a defense to an allegation of infringement under the U.S. Copyright Law that permits limited use of portions of a copyrighted work without the copyright owner's permission for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research. Section 107 of the Copyright Act establishes four basic factors to be considered in deciding whether a use constitutes a fair use. These factors are:

  • The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for non-profit, educational purposes.
  • The nature of the copyrighted work.
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation the copyrighted work as a whole.
  • The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

If after weighing your use of copyrighted materials against the four Fair Use factors you feel that you have a legitimate defense against a copyright infringment allegation, make sure you keep the documentation in your records for future reference.

Registering Your Intellectual property with the U.S. Copyright Office

Professional Ethics