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The University is legally required to establish policy stating that faculty, staff, students, and community members must obey all state and federal laws respecting the copyrights and trademarks of others.

The University of Colorado Boulder encourages the Fair Use of copyrighted materials in support of its academic and research mission and strives to provide clear guidance to faculty, students, and staff who wish to use copyrighted materials in their teaching and research.

What is copyright?

Copyright is legal protection for creative and intellectual works. Just about any fixed and tangible expression of an idea is covered by copyright, including text (such as books, articles, emails, and web-based information), photographs, art, graphics, music, and software. Copyright does not protect works that: lack originality (like the phone book), are in the public domain, are US government works, are facts, or are ideas, processes, methods, and systems described in copyrighted works.

As soon as a work is created in material or persistent form (printed, published, put on a website, recorded, filmed, etc.), it is copyrighted by the creator, and therefore protected by copyright law. 

Most commonly, the creator of the work holds the copyright and therefore the exclusive right to:

  • Reproduce,
  • Perform,
  • Prepare,
  • Display, 
  • Distribute, and
  • Grant permission for others to use the work. 

However, there are cases where these exclusive rights may have been given to the person who hired the creator or another entity.

Learn More...

Public Domain
Learn about works that are not covered by copyright and what happens when copyright expires

Author's Rights
Learn about the rights of a creator, how to negotiate for those rights, and licensing options

Fair Use
Learn about a provision of copyright law that allows for some uses of copyrighted works without permission

Learn how to seek permission from a copyright holder if fair use does not apply to your use of a copyrighted work