Copyright refers to the legal protection granted to creators of creative works that ensures their work is not copied, printed, published, distributed or adapted without their permission. The United States Copyright Office has put together this guide on Copyright Basics to help clarify what protections copyright holders are afforded under U.S. Copyright Law.
"Copyright is a collection of rights granted to artists, authors, musicians, and other creators of original works. Copyright laws seek to ensure that creative people benefit from their own creations. The laws protect against the unauthorized copying, distribution, and public performance of creative works. Many forms of expression, including books, computer programs, designs, motion pictures, musical compositions, paintings, and poems, are protected by copyright laws. Protected works are considered intellectual property. Such property is defined as a product of human creativity over which a person or group of people have legal control."
Learn more about copyright and how to obtain permissions from copyright holders at www.copyright.com/learn/about-copyright/
The World Intellectual Property Organization states that, "Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce." Intellectual Property may protect creators and owners rights similar to traditional copyrights but expands these rights under the concept of related rights to reflect the broad scope of human endeavor.
Read more about Intellectual Property in WIPO's What is Intellectual Property Guide
The Oxford English Dictionary defines Plagiarism as, "the action or practice of taking someone else's work, idea, etc., and passing it off as one's own; literary theft."
Plagiarism is not limited to literary or text based ideas but may also apply to the theft or misuse or images, video footage, music, media and other creative endeavors.
Plagiarism may occur in any of the following ways:
U.S. Copyright Office maintains, "Fair use is a legal doctrine that promotes freedom of expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances. Section 107 of the Copyright Act provides the statutory framework for determining whether something is a fair use and identifies certain types of uses—such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research—as examples of activities that may qualify as fair use."
Fair Use is not an umbrella for scholars that uniformly protects all forms of use. To evaluate whether a particular use is protected under Section 107 consider the following:
What is the purpose and character of the use?
What is the nature of the of the copyrighted work?
How much of the copyrighted content will be used?
Does the use have an impact on the potential or actual value of the copyrighted work?
Still not sure whether your use of copyrighted material is considered fair use? Take a look at this guide from the University of Minnesota on Understanding Fair Use.
Stephen Fisherman writes in his book Public Domain: How to Find & Use Copyright-Free Writings, Music, Art & More that public domain refers to "creative works that for one reason or another are not protected by copyright law and are ordinarily free for all to use." (p.4)
Works are typically placed in public domain because the period of copyright has ended, the creator/owner/copyright holder has chosen to let the copyright expire, or the copyright protection was never sought for the original work. Works that are not subject to copyright or intellectual property protection may also be considered for use in the public domain. Such works are freely available for uses such as reproduction, adaptation, exhibition, distribution or redistribution.
An extensive list of Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States is provided by Cornell University.
This Copyright Term Calculator is a great tool if you need more information on the U.S. copyright term for a specific work.
The Creative Commons refers to a form of rights protection where the creator has chosen to allow certain rights such as limited use, distribution and reproduction to become public provided the work is properly attributed. Many images and creative works that would normally carry full copyright protections have been voluntarily placed under a Creative Commons license by their creators to promote research, innovation and accessibility. Creative Commons licenses may allow for commercial or noncommercial use, and such licenses allow creators to define how their work may be shared and used by others with greater freedom and specificity than traditional legal copyrights.
Learn more about creative commons licensing at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/