Copyright is one of the four types of intellectual property under United States law.
Copyrights apply to the expression of an idea -- literature, art, music...or software. The author of a book, or the painter of a painting, or the writer or performer of a song owns that expression of an idea, and under the law of the United States (and most other countries) has the right to control how that work is copied by others. This includes reproduction, adaptation, public performance and so forth.
Under U.S. law, as soon as the creative work is set down in concrete form - written down, drawn, sculpted, recorded, etc. - the creator holds the copyright. They do no need to register the work with the U.S. Copyright Office (though that may confer some legal advantages.)
For more information, see other sections on this page, or:
As mentioned above, the copyright holder on a copyrighted work has legal control under U.S. law of who may reproduce, adapt, perform, etc. the work. However, under U.S. law, there are certain exceptions to required permission from the copyright holder. These are describe in Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright, and are collectively known as fair use Anyone may reuse copyrighted materials for certain limited purposes. It is importnt to note that "fair use" is a set of guidelines, not a matter of clear-cut law.
Generally speaking, use of a portion of a copyrighted work for educational or scholarly purposes, for review or for satire is allowed. The four fair use factors are:
If you wish to reuse a portion of a copyrighted work, consider these factors carefully. When in doubt, ask for permission from the copyright holder. For more information, see:
UCSB Fair Use Checklist (PDF)
A work in public domain may be freely copied, reused, apdated, etc. by anyone without required permission. A work may be in public domain beacuse:
For mor information, see:
Creative Commons is a non-profit organization founded in 2002 to devise ways for authors to automatically license selected uses of their creative works to others while still retaining the underlying copyright. The organization has developed legal languagefor the United States and numerous other copyright-issuing nations which an author may attach to their work to grant specific permissions to all users.
The CC.org website has a tool that allows you to select the features you want for your license, and creates a tag that you can copy and paste into your work. For webpages, it generates the HTML code to allow you embed the license on your page Options include:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
For Students: Anything you originally write or create at UCSB is copyrighted, and the copyright belongs to you!
For faculty, lecturers, librarians and other UCSB employees: Works that you create as part of your job duties are considered "work for hire" under U.S. law, and the copyright is automatically assigned to the Regents of the University of California.
There are two critical exceptions to this rule:
For more information about University of California copyright policy, see:
It has been a long-standing tradition in scholarly journal publishing that when an article is accepted for publication, the author transfers their copyright for the article to the publisher. This gave the publisher the right to edit the work, make it available in multiple formats, and so on. However, in recent years, this policy has begun to change. For example: