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Copyright Basics

Provides information about U.S. copyright law, including rights of users, permission, and the public domain.

Copyright Questions?

The University of Michigan Library Copyright Office provides help with copyright questions for University of Michigan faculty, staff and students. Please email us with questions or visit our website for more information.

Legal Advice

The information presented here is intended for informational purposes and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have specific legal questions pertaining to the University of Michigan, please contact the Office of the General Counsel.

If you require legal advice in your personal capacity, the lawyer referral services operated by the Washtenaw County Bar Association and the State Bar of Michigan may be helpful to you.

Rights of Users

Copyright law gives users the right to use copyrighted material without permission under certain circumstances. These provisions are often called exceptions and limitations to copyright law. In the U.S., they include fair use, certain uses during face-to-face teaching and distance education, and certain uses by libraries and archives.

If your planned use implicates one of the rights of copyright holders and does not fall under a user right, you will need to get permission from the copyright holder or change your plans.

List of Rights of Users

Covers fair use, an exception to US copyright law that allows certain favored uses of in copyright work without having to ask the copyright holder for permission.

Covers the rights given to teachers and students in traditional, in person classrooms and in distance education.

Covers the rights libraries and archives have to make certain reproductions and distributions of in copyright works.

International Rights of Users

Other countries have different rules about users’ rights. Module 4 of Copyright for Librarians provides an overview of the international landscape. It was produced by Electronic Information for Libraries and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society.