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Copyright Basics

This guide offers basic copyright information for users of copyrighted materials.

How do I know that a work is copyrighted?

  • Copyright is automatic. The moment an original expression of an author/creator becomes fixed in a tangible medium, the author/creator has exclusive rights.
  • Since 1989, no copyright symbol (©) is necessary, although it can be helpful for users to see the symbol with the year created and the copyright owner (© 2023, John Smith)
  • As an author/creator, you are not required to register your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office (but you can for a fee)

Always assume a work you want to use is copyrighted.

How long does copyright last?

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