Skip to Main Content
CCAC Library

Copyright & Fair Use: How To Get Copyright

The purpose of this guide is to provide faculty, staff, and students at CCAC with an understanding of copyright law and fair use.

How To Get Copyright

How does the creator of a work get copyright?

Copyright protection begins as soon as a work is created.  Copyright is secured automatically when a work is "fixed in a tangible medium of expression." This means that the work must exist in some physical form for at least some period of time, no matter how brief. Copyright does not protect ideas that are not expressed in tangible form. Written works, photographs, and computer files are all examples of tangible media.


Do I have to register my work with the Copyright office or include a ©?

Registration, publication and a copyright notice are no longer legally required in order to have copyright.
There are advantages to giving notice of copyright ownership, however, including putting others on notice of the author’s claim of rights and taking advantage of the availability of certain damages in connection with an infringement claim.  A copyright notice includes the symbol, the author’s name and the year.

Registration also provides several advantages. It establishes a public record of the copyright claim, and it is necessary for works of U. S. origin before an infringement suit may be filed in court.


Who owns “works for hire”?

Works for hire are works prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment and certain specially ordered or commissioned works prepared under written agreement.  In the case of works made for hire, the employer and not the employee is considered to be the author.


How long does a copyright last?

In general, the copyright term for a work created in the United States after 1977 (that is not a work made for hire) is the life of the author plus 70 years. Once the copyright expires, the work passes into the Public Domain.

CCAC Libraries | Community College of Allegheny County | Pittsburgh, PA | © 2021