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Scholarly Communication

An exploration of issues relating to scholarly communication and open access.

Copyright: A Brief Summary

Copyright law, as defined in 17 U.S.C. § 102, protects "original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression" for a limited period. Copyright protection includes, for instance, the legal right to publish and sell literary, artistic, or musical work, and copyright protects authors, publishers and producers, and the public.  Copyright applies both to traditional media (books, records, etc.) and to digital media (electronic journals, web sites, etc.). Copyright protects the following eight categories of works:

  • Literary works
  • Musical works
  • Dramatic works
  • Pantomimes and choreographic works
  • Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
  • Motion pictures and other audiovisual works
  • Sound recordings
  • Architectural works

Ownership of a copyrighted work includes the right to control the use of that work. Use of such work by others during the term of the copyright requires either permission from the author or reliance on the doctrine of fair use. Failure to do one or the other will expose the user to a claim of copyright infringement for which the law provides remedies including payment of money damages to the copyright owner.

Connect to the U.S. Copyright Office website for further details.

Question about copyright and the public domain?  Connect to this explanatory chart.

Copyright Compliance

Simpson Library complies with the laws and regulations set forth in the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). All students, staff and faculty, associated with the University of Mary Washington (UMW) are responsible for and encouraged to understand copyright law and how it applies to their endeavors at UMW both academically and professionally.

Materials posted in Eagle Scholar have the same copyright protections as those printed on paper – open access only changes the method of distribution, not the author’s rights. Contributors to Eagle Scholar must either hold copyright to the work or have the permission of the copyright holder to publish it in the repository. If you have any questions regarding the institutional repository, please contact