How do I make sure the materials I use on my Domains site are legal?
Answer: Attribution! Copyright law is complex, so in this section, we will breakdown the basics you need to know to make sure you are within your legal rights to post material to your website. The first, and most important, thing you need to remember is to always give credit where credit is due. In other words, provide citation information anytime you post text, images, videos, or any other materials you did not create yourself. Here is a fun animation that illustrates why this is so important (sorry for the ear worm!):
What is Copyright?
Copyright in its most basic form is actually just that: the right to copy. The term “copyright,” however, is a bit misleading: copyright is not just one right – it is several exclusive rights that an author (usually the creator) has over their work. copy rights. The copyright holder has the exclusive right to do (and allow others to do) the following:
Exclusive Rights of the Copyright Holder
- reproduce the work
- prepare derivative works
- distribute copies or transfer ownership
- publicly perform the work (e.g. show a movie, perform a play, or play a song recording)
- display the work publicly
What Works Are Protected?
Examples of copyrightable works include:
- 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, which are works that result from the fixation of a series of musical, spoken, or other sounds
- Architectural works
These categories should be viewed broadly for the purpose of registering your work. For example, computer programs and certain “compilations” can be registered as “literary works”; maps and technical drawings can be registered as “pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works.”
What gets copyrighted and when?
Copyright is applied to any original work of authorship in a fixed, tangible form. This means that once you prepare a creative work and write it down, you own the copyright to it. Many of the original, creative works you prepare in your daily life are subject to copyright – owner, you! That holiday letter I (finally!) sent off to my family this morning? Copyrighted. The selfie I took last night? Copyrighted. The notes I took in class last semester? Yes, those are copyrighted, too. The grocery list I prepared for my roommate? Not so much. While it is written down, there is nothing “original” or “creative” about it. It is just a factual list of things I intend to pick up from the market – it has no creative spark!
For More Information, See:
- Copyright Resources to Support Publishing and Teaching
- Shannon Robinson, Fischer Fine Arts Library at UPenn Image Permissions PowerPoint
- Shannon Robinson, Fischer Fine Arts Library at UPenn, Image Permissions Handout