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Terms to know

Attribution: Credit given to the creator of a work that you have used; citing a work used or referenced; in research papers, your Works Cited or References pages give attribution

Author/Artist/Creator: Person who created a copyrighted work; may be an author, artist, musician, web designer, etc.

Collective work: Copyrighted work made by two or more people in which all parties share copyright.

Consumable(s):  Copyrighted work(s) meant to be used only once and by one person; coursepacks, workbooks, and such fall into this category

Copyleft:  A type of license granted by the copyright holder that is less restrictive than standard copyright protections, often granting others at least the right to distribute the work, but may also give others the right to make derivative works, performance rights, and other traditionally protected rights covered by copyright.  Creative Commons works carry copyleft licensing.

Copyright:  Protection of published and unpublished works under US law and international convention.  These include literary, dramatic, artistic, musical, electronic and web-based materials, and other original works.

Copyright Infringement:  Unauthorized use of any copyrighted material or intellectual property, thereby violating the copyright holder’s rights.

Copyright Notice:  An identifier used to designate that the contents are protected under copyright law.

Corporate author:  Corporation responsible for the creation of a copyrighted work; often have individual people hired to create materials for them in their corporation’s name; see Work for Hire

Creative Commons:  A non-profit organization that grants free licensing which lets the authors determine which rights they wish to keep and which rights they decide to waive.

Derivative Work:  A work that has been modified or changed from its original form.

Distribution Rights:  The right to display, give away, sell, or otherwise pass on a copyrighted work to another.  This right is usually limited to the owner of the copyright for that work.

Fair Use:  A legal limitation to the exclusive rights covered by copyright laws by using a limited amount of copyrighted material without permission for education, research, news reporting, criticism, or commentary.  Printing an article from a library database such as Opposing Viewpoints in Context for a research paper is an example of Fair Use.  For more details, see our Fair Use page.

File Sharing:  The practice of uploading and/or downloading digital files in any format, including text, images, and audiovisual, to a network where more than one person can access the files.  Using TurnItIn.com to turn in a paper for your writing class, or posting a video to YouTube are examples.

Industrial Property:  One type of intellectual property that is protected by patents and trademarks.  Logos, brand names, and inventions are only a few examples of industrial property.

Intellectual Property:  Legal protections given through copyright, patents, or trademarks to creations.  For more information, see our Intellectual Property page.

License/Licensing Agreement:  Permission granted by the copyright holder to another person or corporation that gives them one or more of the following usually only held by the copyright holder:  the right to copy, the right to distribute, the right to display, the right to perform, and the right to make derivative works.  Licensing overrides copyright.

Mashup:  A form of derivative works that are created by reusing and combining small sections of video, audio, and graphics.  If a mashup contains copyrighted material not owned by the person creating the mashup, it may be breaking copyright laws.

Parody:  A form of derivative works that are created specifically to make a statement, often humorous, about the original.  An example of this isHarvey Putter and the Ridiculous Premise, a film parody of the Harry Potter series.  Parodies are an exception to the derivative work rights of the copyright holder; parodies can be made by someone other than the original work’s copyright holder.

Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Technology:  Network of online computers allowing users to exchange digital content from one computer to another.

Performance Rights:  The right to perform music, plays, and other performance art in public–usually this right belongs only the the copyright holder.  Licenses granting performance rights, often limited, can be purchased.

Piracy:  The intentional sale of copyrighted works by illegal means.

Plagiarism:  The practice of claiming on person’s work as your own; not giving credit to the author or creator of a book, picture, song, or film used in a research paper, PowerPoint, or other creation is a common form of plagiarism.

Public Domain: Works that are no longer protected by copyright are in the public domain–they are “owned” by everyone rather than an individual or corporation.

Rights Clearance:  The process of obtaining permission for use of a copyrighted work from the copyright holder.

Royalty:  The fee paid to the author of a copyrighted work in order to use it.

Royalty-Free Agreement:  Purchased license to use copyrighted work many times for an unlimited amount of time.

Terms of Use:  Copyright owners’ rules set for the use of their copyrighted work.

Work for Hire:  Creations made by an employee while employed by a company as part of his or her job, or creations commissioned in certain circumstances.