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Copyright: About

A LibGuide to inform faculty and students about copyright.

About this Guide

Welcome to the Copyright LibGuide! This guide is designed to share information on copyright and fair use in an educational setting and provide guidance on finding and using materials in online, hybrid, and in-person courses.

This guide does not supply legal advice, nor is it intended to replace the advice of legal counsel.

For additional information please see the Copyright FAQ.

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Creative Commons Attribution License

You are welcome to reuse the content of this Guide as long as you attribute Butler University Libraries.

What is Copyright?

copyright symbolCopyright is a set of rights provided by the U.S. Constitution "to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective writing and Discoveries" (Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution). 

So what does this mean?

Copyright provides a set of rights to the authors of "original works", which can include literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, audiovisual, and other works like software. These rights are given to works regardless of publishing status, so published and unpublished works are granted these rights, upon creation. It does not, however, protect ideas; it protects the expression of ideas. 

Copyright grants these exclusive rights:

  • to reproduce the work (i.e., to make copies)
  • to prepare derivative works (i.e., creating an adaptation, like making a movie from a book or translating a book from French to English)
  • to distribute copies publicly
  • to perform the work publicly
  • to display the work publicly
  • in the case of sound recording, to perform the work publicly as a digital audio transmission

Copyright can be transferred in part or all to another person or entity (like a publisher) with written consent. 

Some exceptions do apply, like fair use. If a person uses copyrighted material, where exceptions do not apply and without permission from the author, the user could be held liable for copyright infringement. Read through the "Exceptions" tab to learn more about the exceptions to copyright.

Copyright Liaison

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Jennifer Coronado
(317) 940-9549


Email Butler University Libraries
Irwin Library: 317-940-9227
Science Library: 317-940-9937

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