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Copyright Information Center: Author Rights

Your Rights as an Author

As a content creator copyright law extends you the exclusive rights to do the following with your works unless you grant permission otherwise or unless your work is considered work for hire.

The law gives the owner of copyright the following exclusive rights:
• To reproduce the work (i.e. to make copies);
• To prepare derivative works (i.e. to make a movie from a book or to translate a work into another language);
• To distribute copies publicly;
• To perform the work publicly (i.e. a play or movie);
• To display the work publicly; and
• In the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of
a digital audio transmission.

See your institution's policices to determine if your work is considered work for hire. It is also possible that you may sign over some or all of your copyright to another person or entity such as a publisher.

You may also choose to grant others specific rights to use your content according to certain conditions via a Creative Commons license.

Infringement

If you discover your own work being used or shared unexpectedly, you may first wish to consider the possibility that someone else is making fair use of your work. However, copyright infringement (sometimes unintentional, sometimes malicious) is not uncommon. If your work is being infringed, there are a number of steps you can take.

Consult an attorney. An attorney can take direct action on your behalf, and attorneys who have special expertise in copyright may have a lot of potential solutions for you. However, attorneys can be expensive, and there are some self-advocacy steps you can take as well.

Ask them to stop. It is almost always a bad idea for a non-lawyer to send a threatening "cease and desist" copyright letter - even some attorneys make mistakes with legal threats around copyright issues, if they are not specialists. However, a polite explanation of your objection and request to stop the problematic practice can often work wonders. And if the polite letter doesn't work, you can follow up with other measures.

DMCA takedown. Many websites that host user-generated content will remove or disable problematic content if you contact their DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) agent. However, under the same rules, if the individual who uploaded the your material responds asking for their content to be restored, many sites will (appropriately - this is how the law is supposed to work) restore it. At that point, you would do well to contact an attorney with experience with copyright matters.

Don't wait too long! There is a statute of limitations on copyright claims - if you wait more than three years after you find out about the potentially-infringing use, you may not be able to take legal action. (In some jurisdictions, the statute of limitations is understood to begin at the time of infringement, not the time you find out about it! Cases in these jurisdictions expire even faster!)

However, don't rush in too quickly! It is easy to make very sweeping arguments and threats when you feel your rights have been violated, but this rarely plays out well in the long term. You may find that some infringing uses are not worth your time to pursue. Note that you cannot lose your copyright ownership by failing to police your works. People are sometimes confused about this, because you can lose trademarks through neglect, but you continue to own your copyright for the full term, or until you transfer it away.

*This infringement guide is reproduced from the University of Minnesota University Libraries Copyright website under a Creative Commons CC BY-NC license.

Copyright for Dissertations and Theses

Students are the copyright holders for their dissertations and theses. Students in many degree programs are required to deposit a digital copy of their dissertation or thesis with the library. The student still retains full copyright to the dissertation or thesis. Posting of it online in the Loyola/Notre Dame Library's digital collections does not remove any of the author's exclusive rights under copyright law.

Students sumbitting electronic dissertations or theses to the library must also make sure that they are not violating anyone else's copyright. All copyrighted materials such as tests and measurements must be removed from the dissertation or thesis unless it is accompanied by a document indicating the copyright holder's permission to include the material.

Student Work

Students hold the copyright for works that are created for their courses. However, they may be required to share their works in certain contexts to receive course grades and course credit. Permission to use the works in other ways should be acquired from the student.

Students do not typically own the copyright to notes taken during their courses as these would be considered derivative works of the materials presented by their instructors.