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Copyright, Fair Use, and Public Performance Rights

The Basics


At its core, holding copyright means having exclusive rights to make certain uses of your work for a limited period of time. These exclusive rights and time periods are intended as a reward system to encourage authors and artists to write and create things.

When is Copyright Applied?


Not everything an author or artist creates is subject to protection under the Copyright Act. Copyright protects only expression, not ideas or facts. An example of this is if you are creating scholarship and incorporating population statistics, you need to cite the statistics' source by professional standards but do not need to request permission to use them from the author.  Note the distinction between using the statistics vs. using the language with which an author describes them: The author can have copyright in his/her particular expression of the content, but not the underlying facts, themselves.

Examples of copyrightable works:

  • Literary works
  • Musical works
  • dramatic works
  • Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
  • Motion pictures and other audiovisual works
  • More can be found here.

Copyright Doesn't Protect:


Ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts, principles, or discoveries

• Works that are not fixed in a tangible form (such as an improvisational speech that has not been written down)

• Titles, names, short phrases, and slogans

• Familiar symbols or designs

• Mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or coloring

• Mere listings of ingredients or contents

More information can be found here.

USG Copyright and Fair Use


You can find more information on how the University System of Georgia handles copyright and fair use here.