University Library

Fair Use and Copyright

About this guide

The library does not and cannot give legal advice - we're librarians, not lawyers! But just like most other types of questions, librarians are happy to talk to you about your question and point you to resources to help you find an answer. 

This guide reflects the most common questions, concerns, and comments we hear at the library about copyright and Fair Use.

What is Copyright?

Copyright is legal protection for certain creative works that controls who may legally copy, sell, display, perform, or adapt those works. In the United States, it comes from Title 17 of the U.S. Code, and it applies to "original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression," including books, articles, movies, and music - in other words, most of the things accessed in or through the library.

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