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Graduate Student Guide: Copyright


Copyright is important for you to understand as a student and as a professional. Copyright infringement is a serious crime, and you should learn how to avoid committing copyright infringement. You should also understand the basics of copyright to protect your own work. Keep in mind that copyright infringement is NOT the same as plagiarism. 

Health Sciences Library

The Health Sciences Library at Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences promotes adherence by the Lancaster General Community to the provisions of the United States Copyright Act (Title 17 United States Code) and the related acts defining proper use of copyrighted materials. We urge and expect that you will become familiar with, and abide by the terms of copyright law, fair use, and related regulations. 


Copyright Term and Public Domain Chart -- Developed by Cornell University

Thinking Through Fair Use -- The University of Minnesota Libraries' tool for determining "fair use."

Exceptions for Instructors -- To find out if your intended use meets the requirements set out in the law, use this free, online tool.

Fair Use Evaluator -- Helpful to determine the "fairness" of a use under the U.S. Copyright Code.

Copyright Framework - Framework from Virginia Tech that was used in the Learning Commons Copyright Refresher workshop


   What is copyright?

   The U.S. Copyright Office defines copyright as a "form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by    law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and        unpublished works."

What does copyright law protect?

Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic work

s, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed.  (See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section 'What Works Are Protected'.")

(United States Copyright Office. Copyright in General. Retrieved from


What is not covered under copyright law?

Patents, trademarks, trade secrets

You can find the U.S. Copyright Law in its entirety at:

[U.S. Code Title 17, Chapters 108 and 10-12]

Disclaimer: This web page provides general information concerning copyright and fair use, but does not constitute legal advice.   

Creative Commons

Creative Commons (CC) licensing allows you to use the work of others without asking for copyright permission; however, there are different CC licenses with different types of permissions. You may choose to license your own work under a CC license as well. To learn more about CC licenses, click the Creative Commons link below.

Want to learn more?

Want to learn more about copyright? Contact a librarian or visit our Copyright guide for more information. 

Health Sciences Library - Seraph Learning Commons - Cooper Building - 850 Greenfield Road - Lancaster, PA 17601 - - (717 947-6022).PA Forward logo