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Copyright and Fair Use: Author's Rights

Who is the copyright owner?

Generally, the author or authors of a work own the copyright. If an employee creates a work within the scope of her employment then the employer generally owns the copyright. This is considered a work made for hire. In the USG's Policy Manual, § 6.3.3 describes in depth the distinction between individual efforts and institutional efforts. 

What rights do I have as a copyright owner?

Section 106 of the Copyright Act gives the owners of copyright the exclusive right to do and authorize others to: 

  • Reproduce the work
  • Prepare derivative works based upon the work
  • Distribute copies of the work
  • Publicly perform the work
  • Publicly display the work
  • For sound recordings, publicly perform the work by means of a digital audio transmission

How do I get my work copyrighted?

A copyrighted work must be an original work of authorship that is fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright is automatic, at the moment of fixation, for works produced on or after Jan. 1, 1978. Copyright registration and a copyright notice (such as © 2018 Valdosta State University) is no longer required. However, a copyright notice does tell the world that you do not want your work to be used without permission. Copyright registration with the U.S. Copyright Office is required before filing suit in federal court for copyright infringement.

How do I register my copyright?

The rights holder can register a copyright at any time while the copyright is in force. To do so, you need to fill out forms at the U.S. Copyright Office's website and pay a fee. Fees currently start at $35 for a basic claim of original authorship. It is also possible to preregister a copyright for certain types of work.

What can I do with my own copyrighted works?

As a copyright owner you have the ability to decide who may use your work and under what conditions. You have the right to transfer your copyright ownership to another in whole or in part, or you may retain your ownership and simply grant another person permission to use your work. If you are granting another permission to use your work, you are granting a license and that license may be exclusive or non-exclusive. Depending on the extent of rights you would like to retain, there are a number of models an author may choose.

How do I grant permission to others?

If a party wishes to use your work and your work does not fall within the public domain and their own use does not fall under fair use or another exception, they must seek your permission.  Attaching copyright notices, terms of use, or permission statements to your work can make it easier for individuals wanting to seek your permission to find you or know in advance what they may do with your work. A grant of permission (license) may be exclusive or non-exclusive. To grant an exclusive license, or to transfer your ownership of the copyright to another, you must have a signed, written agreement. 


This work is subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.  It incorporates materials from The Ohio State University Copyright Services Guide, available at, which is available under the same CC-BY license.