What is Copyright?

| February 1, 2018
Image: Electronic Frontier Foundation

Image: Electronic Frontier Foundation

The first week of the semester was Copyright Week. At it’s most basic level, copyright protects intellectual property. However, the Electronic Frontier Foundation says it also “is supposed to encourage progress and creativity, enriching our culture and contributing to the growth of knowledge.” As educators and students, copyright is particularly important because it can limit our access to materials. However, with the growing popularity of Open Access (i.e. free to use), it can enhance our learning as well. Copyright Week focuses on our rights to information and fosters discussion about ways to protect those rights.

The EFF identified these main issues for discussion throughout the week: Public Domain and Creativity, Controlling Your Devices, Transparency, Copyright as a Tool of Censorship, and Safe Harbors. Their website features many articles about each of these topics if you’re interested in learning more.

If you’d like to learn more about copyright, Columbia University Libraries has put together some materials about copyright basics. Columbia also offers Copyright Advisory Services for students and faculty.

If you’re trying to figure out if something is in the public domain or restricted under copyright, you can use the Copyright Slider. Or if you want a slightly vintage looking, test style copyright checker there’s also the Copyright Genie.