Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
rutgers library logo dark

Introduction to Intellectual Property and Copyright: Copyright and Fair Use

Rutgers University Website on Copyright for Students, Faculty and Staff

"This site provides guidance to faculty, students, and staff on Rutgers policy and practice for using copyrighted works in academic research and publication, teaching, and other educational activity."


Congress established the Copyright Office in 1897 within Library of Congress.

Copyright Act of 1976 (17 United States Code)

You can register your work with the U.S, Copyright Office, but your work is automatically protected as soon as you create it. 

In the United States, copyright lasts for the life of the person who creates a work plus 70 years.

Fair Use Check List

Columbia University's Fair Use Check List provides a tool to analyze fair use. These are only guidelines with the ultimate question being whether the cumulative weight of the factors favors or turns you away from fair use.

Registering for Copyright

How do I register my copyright? You need to submit a complete application form. See Registration Procedures and Circular 4, Copyright Office Fees. 

What is Copyright?

Copyright basics:

  • It is based on the principle of respecting the copyright owner, the person who created the work.  
  • Just because you own a copy of the book, CD, poster, art work, or film doesn't mean you have the right to make copies of the material. The purchase of the item only means that you own a personal copy. Making reproductions to sell most likely is not within your rights. 
What works are protected? 
Most original works are protected by copyright. The U.S. Copyright law places copyrightable works in the following broad 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

Copyright and Fair Use

The Fair Use limitation enable uses of copyrighted works without prior permission or payment of a royalty. In determining that the use made of a work is a fair use, we need to consider the following:

  • Purpose the character of use: education, research, transformative use, non-commercial use
  • Nature of the copyrighted work: published, informational, nonfictional
  • Amount of portion of work used from the copyrighted work: small portion, non-essential portion
  • Effect: no major effect on market or potential market for work

The American Library Association maintains the research guide  Copyright for Libraries - Fair Use

Rights of the Copyright Holder

The copyright holder has exclusive rights to

  • ​Reproduction
  • Derivative works

  • Public distribution
  • Public performance
  • Public Display
  • Public Performance by means of digital audio transmission

© , Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Rutgers is an equal access/equal opportunity institution. Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to direct suggestions, comments, or complaints concerning any accessibility issues with Rutgers websites to or complete the Report Accessibility Barrier / Provide Feedback form.