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Copyright: What is Copyright?

This guide provides information and CCC resources on the topic of Copyright.

Copyright and the Constitution

The Congress shall have Power ...  To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times  to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and  Discoveries.

-United States Constitution, Article I,
Section  8


Flickr image credit: David Wees


When a person creates material-whether it's a work of literature, art, photography, music, film or broadcast-copyright gives that person the right to control the use of their material. Copyright is designed to protect the creator of the content, and is designed to inform who can copy, adapt or distribute that work without permission and when this is allowed.

Copyright can protect a variety of content including novels, computer programs, song lyrics, newspaper articles, music, photographs, maps, logos and film. Copyright also applies to any medium including the internet and applies to downloading, sharing, and streaming.

Copyright protects the particular way authors have expressed themselves. It does not extend to any ideas, systems, or factual information conveyed in a work.

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