Updated November 1, 2023
The information presented here is general information for educational purposes only. It is not a UMGC policy statement and does not constitute legal advice, nor does it take precedence over any rules or guidelines set by Course Development, the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, or the School of Cybersecurity and Information Technology regarding selection and use of materials in the classroom and is not intended to be used as such. Faculty members should consult with their Program Director on any issues related to using materials in their classroom. Faculty and Program Directors can consult with Course Development for guidance on copyright and fair use based on the particular facts and circumstances under consideration. Course Development may seek legal advice from the Office of Legal Affairs as needed to address faculty concerns.
Consistent with USM Policy IV-3.20 – Policy on Intellectual Property [PDF] and UMGC Policy IV-3.20 – Intellectual Property, UMGC has developed this educational resource on the use of copyrighted materials. This resource describes general library and educational fair use and fair use exceptions for research and scholarly work. The purpose of this resource is to help UMGC faculty understand the basics of copyright and fair use. Students may also find this resource useful.
Copyright is a legal device that provides the author of a work of art, literature, or drama with the right to control how the work is used. Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works. The intent of copyright law is to advance the progress of knowledge by giving an author of a work an economic incentive to create new works.
Copyright protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed. Other examples include websites, YouTube videos, online articles, blogs, videos, photographs, and many other types of works found online.
A work is protected by copyright law from the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. In other words, a copyright exists from the time a work is written down or recorded. A copyright does not have to be registered to be protected; although, there are benefits of registration.
A work must be fixed, original and exhibit minimal creativity to be protected by copyright: