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HACC Library - Copyright Information

This guide provides resources for students, staff, and faculty on copyright law and guidelines to follow.

What is ...?

What is …?copyright word cloud

Copyright - Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U. S. Code) to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. see

Intellectual Property - a work or invention that is the result of creativity, such as a manuscript or a design, to which one has rights and for which one may apply for a patent, copyright, trademark, etc. see World Intellectual Property Organization

Public Domain - a public domain work is a creative work that is not protected by copyright and which may be freely used by everyone.  The reasons that the work is not protected include:

(1) the term of copyright for the work has expired; (2) the author failed to satisfy statutory formalities to perfect the copyright or (3) the work is a work of the U.S. Government

Royalty Free (RF) does not mean free. Don’t let it mislead you. RF means that after the initial permission is secured, usually through a payment of some kind, additional uses can be made without payment. RF is multiple use free of royalties. Pay once, use the photo in a book, upload it to your website, print out some fliers. You still had pay for it at the outset.

Conversely, if you are looking for free pictures and stumble on a site with images offered “Royalty Free”, RF does not mean you can take them!

Rights-Managed (RM) use, is where the creator and the user reach a more tightly controlled agreement regarding multiple uses. For example, a RM image appearing in the first edition of a textbook might need to be re-licensed for a fee in order to be cleared to appear in the second edition. RM is the traditional way for licensing intellectual property, and remains in use partly because the details of an explicit license contract lessens risk and makes legal departments happy.

Licensing - In general, licenses for electronic resources allow students, staff, faculty, and other authorized users to access these resources for non-commercial, educational, scholarly and research purposes. Although the terms of use for each license are unique.


copyright-symbolThis guide has been created to explain some aspects of copyright and to offer examples of acceptable uses of copyrighted materials. It should not be construed as legal advice.

Use of copyrighted materials by educators is governed by the Copyright Law of the United States of America and Related Laws Contained in Title 17 of the United States Code. The responsibility for following copyright law and securing copyright clearance rests with the individual.

Library of Congress Copyright Research Guide

Copyright Misconceptions

Have you ever heard or thought:
  • "If it’s on the internet, it’s public domain."
  • "Copyright protects ideas."
  • "When I buy a CD (or a book, DVD or computer software program) I own the copyright in it."
  • "There's no copyright symbol so it isn't protected  by copyright."
  • "I contacted the copyright owner to request permission but I never got a response. It must be okay to use the work."
  • "If it’s for educational purposes, I do not need to obtain copyright permission."

Do any of the above comments sound familiar to you?  If so, you will need to begin your copyright education because they are not true..