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Copyright and Fair Use: Copyright


The purpose of this guide is to provide faculty, staff, and students at the University of Texas at Arlington with an understanding of copyright law and fair use.

While copyright issues can be complex, everyone needs to understand the basics. Failure to comply with copyright law can lead to substantial legal penalties for both you and the university.

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Creative Commons

What is Creative Commons

"Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools.

Their free, easy-to-use copyright licenses provide a simple, standardized way to give the public permission to share and use your creative work — on conditions of your choice. CC licenses let you easily change your copyright terms from the default of “all rights reserved” to “some rights reserved.”

Creative Commons licenses are not an alternative to copyright. They work alongside copyright and enable you to modify your copyright terms to best suit your needs."  [About Creative Commons]

Creative Commons License Chooser

Creative Commons Symbol

Copyright Law Defined

Copyright law, as defined in Title 17 of the United States Code, protects "original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression" for a limited period. Copyright protection includes, for instance, the legal right to publish and sell literary, artistic, or musical work, and copyright protects authors, publishers and producers, and the public.  Copyright applies both to traditional media (books, records, etc.) and to digital media (electronic journals, web sites, etc.). Copyright protects the following eight categories of works:

  1. literary works
  2. musical works
  3. dramatic works
  4. pantomimes and choreographic works
  5. pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
  6. motion pictures and other audiovisual works
  7. sound recordings
  8. architectural works

Ownership of a copyrighted work includes the right to control the use of that work. Use of such work by others during the term of the copyright requires either permission from the author or reliance on the doctrine of fair use. Failure to do one or the other will expose the user to a claim of copyright infringement for which the law provides remedies including payment of money damages to the copyright owner.


I am not an attorney and am not offering legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact the UT System OGC Copyright Attorney.

UT System Office of the General Counsel

Mailing Address:
201 West 7th Street, 6th Floor
Austin, Texas 78701

Phone: 512.499.4462
Fax: 512.499.4523


Thank You!

This guide is based on a guide found at Bern Dibner Library of Science and Technology and is considered one of the Springshare's "Best of Libguides".  The "Best of" sites invites you to "Use these guides in whatever way is helpful for you... if you find something you like, you can copy the guide to your site in its entirety, or just use bits and pieces to inspire your creation."  Some of the guide has been retained, other has been adapted.  Used by permission.