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Copyright and Fair Use

Adapted from Texas A&M University Central Texas libuguide.


  This guide is not intended to be legal advice. It is designed to provide general information about copyright to consider while researching and teaching.

Contact the UT Health San Antonio Legal Affairs Office for more information about legal services.

What is copyright?

Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code) to creators. The owner of copyright has the exclusive right to do and authorize the following:

  • Reproduce the work
  • Prepare derivative works
  • Distribute copies of the work to the public by sale or transfer or ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending
  • Prevent other persons from using work without permission
  • Perform the work publicly

Copyright covers:

  • Motion pictures
  • Sound recordings
  • Literary works
  • Written music and song lyrics
  • Dramatic works and scores
  • Dance and choreography
  • Visual arts (painting, photography, sculpture, digital art, etc)
  • Architectural works

Copyright protection covers both published and unpublished works as well as out-of-print materials.

Facts, ideas, procedures, processes, systems, concepts, principles, or discoveries cannot be copyrighted. However, some of these can be protected by patent or trade secret laws.

Copyright protection currently lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years. If the work has more than one author, the copyright protection lasts for the life of the last author plus 70 years.

What is expected of me?

UT Health San Antonio expects all members of its community to comply with U.S. copyright laws.

Further Reading


At the UT Health Library, librarians get a lot of questions about copyright. Although the ultimate authority for questions about copyright at the University is the Office of Legal Affairs, here is some basic information that is important for all students and faculty to understand so you can get your work done without copyright problems.