Skip to Main Content
Roosevelt University in Chicago, Schaumburg and Online - Logo

Faculty Services and Resources

What is Copyright?

The U.S. Copyright Office defines copyright as

  • A set of exclusive rights awarded to a copyright holder or owner for an original and creative work of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression.
  • A limited statutory monopoly that gives a copyright holder the sole right to market a work for a limited period of time.
  • Copyright also includes exemptions that permit a user of the copyright-protected work the right to exercise an exclusive right without authorization or royalty payment under certain conditions.

(Source: U.S. Copyright Office, "Copyright Basics" -

Copyright includes literary and artistic works, such as

  • Novels, poems, plays, and films
  • Musical works
  • Artistic works, such as drawings, paintings, photographs, and sculptures
  • Architectural designs

Rights related to copyright include those of performing artists in their performances, producers of phonograms in their recordings, and those of broadcasters in their radio and television programs.

(Source: U.S. Copyright Office, "Copyright Basics" -

A work is PROTECTED the moment it is created, available in a tangible form, and perceptible with or without the aid of a device. A protected work may be published or unpublished and includes books, sound and video recordings, art works, photographs, and may be available in print, physical, or digital formats. A protected work enjoys a term of protection that usually includes an author's lifetime and an additional period as determined by a country's copyright laws. When this period expires, and is not renewed or renewable, the work becomes part of the public domain.

The owner of the work may be an author, artist, publisher, organization, etc. and during the term of protection, enjoys the following rights:

  1. Reproduction: The right to make copies of a work
  2. Distribution: The right to sell and distribute copies to the public
  3. Derivative work: The right to prepare derivative works based on the original work
  4. Performance and display rights: The rights to perform a protected work or to display a work in public

Use of the work in any of these ways requires permission from the copyright owner.

Examples that specifically INFRINGE copyright in an educational environment include:

  • Reproduce a work (including systematically over a period of time) to replace the need to purchase the work.
  • Repeated reproduction of a work from semester to semester.
  • Reproduce copyrighted consumables. This includes workbooks, test booklets, etc., intended for individual use and purchase.
  • Reproduce an unpublished work without the permission of the owner. Unpublished works enjoy greater protection under copyright law.
  • Modify, transform, rearrange or repackage a protected work for redistribution in teaching without the permission of the owner.
  • Charge for reproductions beyond the cost of photocopying.