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Copyright & Author Rights

Protect your copyright when publishing your own work.

Copyright in Scholarly Communication

copyright symbolCopyright is one of four categories that comprise "intellectual property." 

In general terms, intellectual property is any product of the human intellect that the law protects from unauthorized use by others. The ownership of intellectual property inherently creates a limited monopoly in the protected property. Intellectual property is traditionally comprised of four categories: patent, copyright, trademark, and trade secrets.

-- Cornell University Legal Information Institute 

The ultimate purpose of copyright legislation is to foster the growth of learning and culture for the public welfare, and the grant of exclusive rights to authors for a limited time is a means to that end. This guide focuses on copyright as it applies to your intellectual property rights as an author. See also ODU's Policy on Intellectual Property (PDF – Links to an external source and may not be accessible)


  • Faculty are responsible for copyright compliance.
  • Always assume a work online is copyrighted, until proven otherwise.
  • If in doubt, seek permission.
  • There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission.
  • Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission. BUT, always acknowledge the source.
  • It is not necessary to have a notice of copyright ©  for material to be copyright protected in the U.S. since 1989. Once something tangible is produced -- text, graphics, music, video, etc. -- it is automatically copyrighted.
  • If you link to someone’s Web site, let them know – as a courtesy.

DISCLAIMER: Information in this guide is intended to provide guidance to faculty in making efforts to uphold copyright laws. Specific questions should be directed to University Counsel.

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