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Use this guide to find information about copyright for WCC faculty.

Copyright Basics

copyright symbol

Copyright holder rights:

  • The right to reproduce (make copies of) the work
  • The right to prepare derivatives of the work
  • The right to distribute it (or copies of it)
  • The right to perform it publicly
  • The right to display it publicly
  • The right to digitally transmit a sound recording

You must get permission to use a copyrighted work unless it falls under a legal exception.

Copyright protection:

A work is protected by copyright as soon as creation is set in a "tangible medium.” Your classroom doodles are copyrighted, your term paper, your class outline. Works protected by copyright are:

  • Original -- independently created by the author.
  • Creative -- some creative effort by the author
  • "Fixed in a tangible medium of expression" -- in some physical form for at least some period of time, no matter how brief.

It is a good idea to put the copyright symbol on your work to signify that you are serious about it. A copyright notice should contain:

  • The word "copyright" a "c" in a circle (©)
  • The date of publication
  • The name of either the author or the owner of all the copyright rights in the published work

What is NOT protected by copyright?

  • Ideas & Facts
  • Works in the public domain, including:
    • works for which the copyright has expired
    • works for which the copyright was lost
    • works produced by the federal government
    • works clearly and explicitly donated to the public domain;
  • Works lacking originality, such as standard calendars or rulers
  • "Works made for hire:" If a work is created by an employee in the course of his or her employment, the employer owns the copyright. In certain specified circumstances, an independent contractor's work may also be "made for hire."
  • If the work is created under a written agreement specifically transferring the copyright to the person hiring the author/inventor.
  • If the creator has sold the entire copyright.
  • Note that a creator can sell certain limited rights under the copyright and retain the rest.
  • Consult Section 208 of the WCCEA Master Agreement for provisions regarding ownership of materials created using College resources.

Copyright Registration:

  • Registering the copyright with the U.S. Copyright office is not necessary for protection of the work.
  • However, registering is necessary before suing for infringement.
  • Registering soon after creation of the work creates a presumption of validity (this means you get the jump on anyone who comes along later and claims to have created the work earlier than you).
  • You can also get specific statutory damages for infringement without having to prove that you have suffered harm

Please note that neither the content on this page nor the resources provided constitute legal advice. 

The video “Copyright Law: A Very Short Introduction” by Molly Ledermann is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Copyright Use Map

Chart outlining copyright use