Copyright for the Fine & Performing Arts: Copyright Basics

This guide gives faculty and students--as practitioners of the arts--a working knowledge of their rights and responsibilities when it comes to copyright, and the fair use of copyrighted materials and others' works of art.

What Can Be Copyrighted?

Copyright protection is extended to original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, whether published or unpublished, including:

  1. literary works;
  2. musical works, including any accompanying words;
  3. dramatic works, including any accompanying music;
  4. pantomimes and choreographic works;
  5. pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
  6. motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
  7. sound recordings; and
  8. architectural works.

Protected and Not Protected

Image created by Johanna Blakley and the Norman Lear Center. CC BY-SA 2.0

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What is Copyright, and what can you do with it?

Copyright protects the creators of original literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works (Title 17, U.S. Code). The protection extends to both published and unpublished material. "Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do the following" (Copyright Basics , US Copyright Office):

  • To reproduce the work
  • To prepare derivative works
  • To distribute copies of the work
  • To perform the work publicly
  • To display the work publicly

Further explore your rights as a copyright holder in the following categories:

University of Utah Policy on Copyright for Faculty and Students

Faculty: "...the University transfers to the Creators any copyrights that it may own in a traditional scholarly Work created by University faculty members that result from teaching, research, scholarly or artistic endeavors, regardless of the medium in which the Work is expressed, unless the Work was developed with substantial use of university resources and commercial use is made of the Work."

Students: "...students are the Owners of the copyright of Works for which academic credit is received, including theses, dissertations, scholarly publications, texts, pedagogical materials or other materials."

Classroom Instruction: The exempt performance or display of copyrighted work is authorized on university premises if the performance or display is:

  • in the course of face-to-face teaching activities;
  • in a classroom; and
  • in the case of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, is presented by means of a lawfully made copy.

Public Performance: ... performance, presentation, or display at a place open to the public, or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of the normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered.

The exempt public performance of a nondramatic literary or musical permitted if:

  • The performance is provided without any direct or indirect admission charge, and no compensation is paid to any of its performers, promoters, or organizers; or
  • All net proceeds derived through any direct or indirect admission charge are used exclusively for education, religious, or charitable Purposes; and 
  • The copyright owner has not served a "notice of objection" concerning the performance at least 7 day in advance.

Copying for Personal Use‌: The making of a single reproduction or phonorecording of copyrighted matter, including Works contained in the collections of the University libraries or archives or obtained by interlibrary loan, is permitted if:

  • The University reasonably believes that the reproduction is made without any purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage;
  • The Copy or Phonorecord will become the property of the user;
  • The University has no notice that the Copy or Phonorecord will be used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research; and
  • Such reproduction or phonorecording, and the intended use to be made of it, constitute Fair Use.

Head of Creativity & Innovation Services

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Greg Hatch
Office: MLIB 2200J
Office Hours: Schedule a one-hour consultation.
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Get Copyright Help

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Allyson Mower, MA, MLIS
University of Utah, Marriott Library
295 South 1500 East, Room 5150E
Salt Lake City, UT 84112
(801) 585-5458
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