Definitions and Terms for Copyright Basics Course

The following terms are basic terms and definitions that will help you get comfortable to copyright.


  • Intellectual Property: Creations of the mind - creative works or ideas embodied in a form that can be shared or can enable others to recreate, emulate, or manufacture them. There are four ways to protect intellectual property - patents, trademarks, copyrights or trade secrets.
  • Copyright protects works of authorship, such as writings, music, and works of art that have been tangibly expressed.
  • Fair Use: a codified part of US Copyright Law with exceptions to copyright that allow for commentary, criticism, news reporting, research, teaching or scholarship. Claims of fair use are measured against four criteria; purpose of use, nature of the copyrighted work, amount and substantiality of the portion used and, effect upon the market.
  • Copyright Infringement an unauthorized use of works protected by a copyright, this unauthorized use can include distribution, duplication, performance, derivation, or a combination thereof. Money does not need to exchange hands in order for a non-permitted use to be considered copyright infringement.
  • A “derivative work” is a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications, which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a “derivative work”.
  • Literary works” are works, other than audiovisual works, expressed in words, numbers, or other verbal or numerical symbols or indicia, regardless of the nature of the material objects, such as books, periodicals, manuscripts, phonorecords, film, tapes, disks, or cards, in which they are embodied.
  • Audiovisual works” a are works that consist of a series of related images which are intrinsically intended to be shown by the use of machines, or devices such as projectors, viewers, or electronic equipment, together with accompanying sounds, if any, regardless of the nature of the material objects, such as films or tapes, in which the works are embodied.
  • Creative Commons, a non-profit organization that created an eponymous licensing framework that allows creators to proactively share their work with explicit permissions.
  • Open Educational Resources (OER) are learning resources developed with sharing in mind. OERs can range from discrete lesson plans to full featured textbooks to video assets, all can be shared and reused.


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