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Copyright Reminder

Many common campus activities involve copyright, and so it is critical that all Stanford faculty, students and staff have a working understanding of copyright law as it impacts their daily lives.  The Stanford University Libraries provide this Copyright Reminder to ensure that all members of the Stanford community have access to that critical information.  The Copyright Reminder highlights common campus copyright concerns, and outlines the fundamental elements of US copyright law that apply in those situations.

Where copyright applies

The Copyright Act (Title 17 of the US Code) gives authors or creators of original works the exclusive right to:

  • copy the work;
  • distribute the work;
  • display or perform the work publicly; and
  • create derivative works from the original work. 

Copyright applies to any work that is “fixed in any tangible medium of expression”, including books, of course, but also photographs, drawings, music, architecture, drama, sculpture, web pages software, and multimedia works.  No copyright mark or registration is required for copyright to apply, so almost all modern works are under copyright.  That means that you can’t copy, distribute, display, or create derivative works from them without the explicit permission of the copyright holder.