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Copyright Resource Guide

A guide intended to provide information and guidance related to copyright for the FCC Community.

Copyright Questions?


Copyright Question Image


For guidance or questions, please contact the Copyright Resource Officer, Colleen McKnight, Director of Library Services.


This guide is to provide information regarding copyright for Frederick Community College, and should not be considered legal advice. The user of this information retains legal responsibility for all decisions on copyright matters.

Links to resources on other websites are for convenience and are not endorsements. FCC is not responsible for information provided on other websites.

What is Copyright?

Copyright grants the owners of a work the sole right to choose how others may use that work and to earn revenues from it. Copyright can be a complex web of permissions and exemptions, but the basics you need to know are:

  • Copyright applies to any fixed, permanent original work, either published or unpublished, that can be seen and/or heard, but does not apply to the ideas, systems, concepts, principles or discoveries these unique works express. 

  • For works published after 1978, copyright is in effect for the life of the author + 70 years. For work-for-hire or anonymous authors, copyright lasts 95 years from first publication or 120 years from creation whichever is shorter.

  • Even if you don't see a copyright symbol on a work, it is likely still under copyright.

When Do I Need Permission?

You always need permission to use copyrighted works unless at least one of the following exemptions applies:

1. The work is in the public domain, usually works published before 1928

2.  The work is considered a U.S. Government Work

3. The use meets the criteria outlined under the Fair Use section

4. The use meets the criteria outlined in the Classroom Use section

5. The use meets the criteria for online courses outlined under the TEACH Act

6. The use is permitted under licensing agreements like Creative Commons

If in doubt ask permission!

Frequently Asked Copyright Questions & Answers

Resources to Get Started

Frederick Community College prohibits discrimination against any person on the basis of age, ancestry, citizenship status, color, creed, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, genetic information, marital status, mental or physical disability, national origin, race, religious affiliation, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status in its activities, admissions, educational programs, and employment.