Copyright Law & Your Rights to Copy

By Richard Sable for Edu422 | Sunday, April 19, 2015

What is Copyright law? What does it mean?

Copyright law is a group of laws created to protect the creators of original intellectual works and make sure that no one else can legally use or redo their works without permission from the creator, acknowledgement of the original works and its authors, and just compensation. “Copyright” laws protect anyone who creates original intellectual and/or artistic works. Facts and ideas are not protected. But if facts and ideas are shown or conveyed in a certain way, they are protected in the original way they are conveyed (music, video, media, art, etc.). The video below, "Copyright: Forever Less One Day" explains the origins, up to modern copyright law and what it means for everyone. (Found at
Copyright: Forever Less One Day

Why is there copyright? What is it actual for?

In other words, Copyright laws protect intellectual property. But what is intellectual property, anyway? Well... Intellectual property is anything that is original and created by someone from their own mind and creativity. This can be anything from inventions, to written works, to music, movies, art, images and any other various other forms of media. Anything original and created by someone that does not copy, plagiarize, or 'borrow' from someone else's original work is intellectual property.

So, can anything be used without breaking copyright law?

The fact is, copyrighted material can be used within certain guidelines without breaching the law. There are a few ways that this can be done. First of all, you can use original works if you get the author, or copyright holder's permission. As long as they consent to someone using there work, it can be used (but usually with some attribution, or other restrictions within the agreement made). There are four images (as seen above) which are used to denote copyright status. The copyright symbol is a "C" with a circle around it. However, just because the symbol is not present does not mean it is not copyrighted.

Another way to legally use certain works is found in the Fair Use laws. Fair Use is an exception to US copyright law. This exception applies to using copyrighted works for the use of teaching, research, criticism, parody, commentary, news reporting and other educational and socially useful activities. Four factors that appear in the statute outline whether or not fair use can be applied. They are: whether the use of the material is for commercial or non-profit purposes, the nature of the copyrighted work (is it mostly fact based or purely creative?), the amount of the work used (both percentage of the work and the importance of the part used), and “the effect on the potential market for, or value of the copyrighted work” ("What is Fair Use?” video, Not all educational use falls within fair use. The fair use symbol is a scale.

There is also Creative Commons Licensing, denoted by "CC" surrounded by a circle.
Creative Commons Licensing is a way to share one’s work within certain permissions defined by the creator. In other words, the author can share their work with expressed permissions to whoever uses it. Attribution must always be given when reusing the work, but the creator can choose what other license elements to include otherwise. These optional elements include: noncommercial (cannot be used to make money), no derivatives (work cannot be changed without permission from original author), and share alike (all other sharers must include same attribution as those who previously shared the material).

Finally, there is Public domain which is symbolized as a copyright symbol with a diagonal line through it. This is the least restrictive of the types of copyright. In actuality, just as the symbol suggests,
it is content that is not, or is no longer protected by copyright law and can therefore be used by the public freely without attribution, or permissions.

The videos below explain more about Fair Use and Creative Commons Licensing and other copyright information.

Above Image obtained from:

Copyright- Creative Commons- Fair Use- Public Domain /

What is Fair Use?

"Creative Commons licenses explained"

Creative Commons licences explained

"Fair Use Simply Explained"

This Video is a copy of the one posted on Patrick McKay's Channel (Paragon Productions) @
Fair Use Simply Explained
Much of the information on this site was obtained from the videos on this site as well as from the original site compiled by Stacey Campo @

All unquoted or uncredited work was the original work of the author, Richard Sable, in which the laws and meanings were written in his own words.

To learn more about Federal Copyright law, please visit