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Copyright and Fair Use at OWU

Copyright at OWU

The goal of this guide is to provide members of the OWU community with informative resources that will help guide them in the responsible use of copyrighted material and encourage them to exercise their fair use rights.

What is Copyright?

Copyright refers to a group of laws (title 17, United States Code) intended to protect the creators of "original works of authorship" both published and unpublished. These individuals are given exclusive rights (and may authorize others) to reproduce their works, create derivative works based on their originals, distribute copies of their works via sale or ownership transfer, and perform or display their works publicly.

What Can Be Copyrighted?

Original works that can be copyrighted fall under the following eight categories:

  • literary works
  • musical works, including any accompanying words
  • dramatic works, including any accompanying music
  • pantomimes and choreographic works
  • pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
  • motion pictures and other audiovisual works
  • sound recordings
  • architectural works

While a work doesn't have to be published to be protected by copyright, it does have to be "fixed in a tangible form of expression" and composed of information that is not "common property." This means that works such as unrecorded performances, slogans, ideas, calendars, and public documents cannot be copyrighted. For more information, check out the U.S. Copyright Office's Copyright Basics.

Use the copyright slider to help you determine whether a work falls under public domain or copyright. 

OWU Computer Use Policy

General information about the acceptable use of OWU computing resources and how that use relates to copyrighted materials can be found in the Terms of Use document created by Information Services.

For information about the use of copyrighted material on web sites under the domain, check out the Use of Computer Facilities and Creation of Web Sites copyright policy.

Librarians Not Lawyers

The information included in this guide should not be used as a substitute for legal advice. Please contact an attorney with specific legal questions.