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Copyright and Fair Use

Compiled by Beth Bloom. This guide covers aspects of Copyright law that pertain to the academic community. It is based on a guide developed by Ingrid Redman at NYU.

Coaching Copyright


We hope that this guide will help members of the Seton Hall community to understand copyright law, and how FAIR USE can affect research and teaching.

Copyright is an issue that reaches nearly everyone in our information-rich academic universe. We all must understand copyright to some extent, since failure to comply with copyright law can lead to substantial legal penalties for both the individual and the university.

This guide also includes a copyright and fair use, a copyright decision map from the University of Minnesota and a fair use evaluator for faculty.

Copyright Law

Please click here for the law as defined by the US copyright office

Copyright Law Defined

Copyright law, as defined in Title 17 of the United States Code, protects "original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression" for a limited period. Copyright protection includes, for instance, the legal right to publish and sell literary, artistic, or musical work, and copyright protects authors, publishers and producers, and the public.  Copyright applies both to traditional media (books, records, etc.) and to digital media (electronic journals, web sites, etc.). Copyright protects the following eight categories of works:

  1. literary works
  2. musical works
  3. dramatic works
  4. pantomimes and choreographic works
  5. pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
  6. motion pictures and other audiovisual works
  7. sound recordings
  8. architectural works

Ownership of a copyrighted work includes the right to control the use of that work. Use of such work by others during the term of the copyright requires either permission from the author or reliance on the doctrine of fair use. Failure to do one or the other will expose the user to a claim of copyright infringement for which the law provides remedies including payment of money damages to the copyright owner.