Copyright for the Fine & Performing Arts: Using and Protecting Your Copyright

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.

Copyright Claims Board

The U.S. Copyright Office created a new small claims tribunal in 2022 as an alternative to federal court for copyright holders, called the Copyright Claims Board (CCB). The board consists of three experts in copyright matters which resolves copyright disputes up to $30,000.

Register Your Work

To fully protect the rights in your original work of authorship and creative work, consider registering it with the U.S. Copyright Office. The office maintains an online registration portal called the Electronic Copyright Office (eCO). Registration fees start at $45. 

Granting Permission to Use Your Work

As a copyright owner, you have the legal right to decide who may use your intellectual property or work of authorship/creative work.

You can license these rights to others on an exclusive or non-exclusive basis. For a useful discussion of the differences between exclusive and non-exclusive licenses, consult legal self-help books, for example Working for Yourself.

Other legal self-help books may provide templates for licensing written works, musical works, visual works, etc. One we recommend is Getting Permission. (To Navigate: Click on "Legal Information Reference Center", then click on "2019" in the right-side column of the EBSCO platform, then "Oct2019".)

If you want to make your work available to others, but don't want to negotiate an agreement each time, such licenses are available from the non-profit Creative Commons (CC). CC licenses are easy to use and optimized for web distribution.

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