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Recording Audio & Video: Copyright

A guide for audio and visual recording projects.

Multimedia from the Library

Understanding Copyright

What is Copyright? 

According to the Library of Congress, copyright refers to the creator's exclusive right to reproduce, prepare derivative works, distribute copies, and publicly perform and display their works.

When can you use someone else's work? 

Almost everything is copyrighted and requires permission from the creator to use. There are, however, some exceptions: 

Creative Commons: Work which is publicly available to use without permission. Each Creative Commons License specifies how the work may be copied, changed, or redistributed while still giving credit.

Public Domain: Work which is not copyrighted because (1) it is very old, (2) the copyright has expired, or (3) the work was created by the federal government. 

Fair Use: Using copyrighted work without permission is considered fair if it is for criticism, commentary, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research.

As a precaution, give credit to any work that is not your own. For an audio or video assignment, cite any sound effects, music, or recorded snippets according to the standards assigned by your instructor.