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Scholarly Communication: What do I need to know about copyright?

The Scholarly Communications committee provides Bucknell’s faculty scholars with customized information, education, and guidance as well as the technical resources and support services needed throughout all steps of the scholarly communications process.


The Basics:

Copyright is a form of intellectual property law that is meant to protect original works in a fixed medium.

Currently, copyright is maintained for the life of the author + 70 years or 120 years after creation for corporate authorship.


Things that can be copyrighted:

Things that cannot be copyrighted: 

  •  Books and articles
  • Photographs, paintings, drawings, sculptures, and statues
  • Advertisements
  • Movies and characters
  • Choreography
  • Sound recordings
  • Software
  • Architecture
  • Facts, ideas, procedures, processes, systems, methods of operation, concepts, principles, and discoveries
  • Titles, names, short phrases, familiar symbols or designs, recipes, layout, blank forms
  • U.S. federal government works
  • Works in the public domain


The copyright holder of a work has the following rights: 

  • The right to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords.
  • The right to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work.
  • The right to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending.
  • The right to perform the copyrighted work publicly in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, motion pictures, and other audiovisual works.
  • The right to display the copyrighted work publicly in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work.
  • The right to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission in the case of sound recordings.


As a copyright holder, these rights are exclusive to you unless you license them or enter into another legal agreement. Applying a Creative Commons license to your work means that you can allow (and encourage) others to use and adapt your work in specific ways.


For more information about copyright law, you can visit our copyright guide.