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Understanding Copyright: A basic introduction

What is Copyright?

According to copyright is the "legal right granted to an author, composer, playwright, publisher, or distributor to exclusive publication, production, sale, or distribution of a literary, musical, dramatic, or artistic work." Copyright laws are meant to protect the interests of a works' creator, while still giving other individuals the ability to use such works in educational situations or for the benefit of society. The exact details of copyright are complex and can be overwelming. Violating copyright can lead to serious legal reprocussions. A basic understanding of copyright is essential to protect yourself and your creative works.

Digital Rights Management and DVDs

Not sure if you can use a ripped DVD in class? Below is some material related to Copyright Law, Digital Rights Management and DVDs, for you to consider.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons ( is a strategy to licensing that some authors and creators use to facilitate sharing and creativity. Below are the various options of creative commons licenses (from the official website).

Image of Creative Commons Licenses types

Copyright Help

There are some excellent tutorials and informational pages created by academic institutions to help their students, faculty and staff understand the parameters of copyright and responsible use. Below is a sample of these resources. Though each contain information specific to their institution, the overall descriptions and guidelines are universal. See the library's copyright policy for additional information specific to our institution.

Contacting a Reference Librarian

Library staff is available to help with your questions big or small.

Walk-in questions are welcome! You can find research assistance in Flory Room 110 (Cori Biddle) or 112a (Vickie Einselen)

or you can schedule a Research Consultation!

Virtual Assistance is available via 

Phone: 540-828-5642
Text: 540-318-1962

Check out our FAQ Knowledge Base

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