Skip to Main Content


Copyright information for the DCCC community.

Protecting Your Copyrights: Understanding Copyright as a Rights Holder

Eligibility Requirements ("Copyrightable Authorship")


  • created by a human being
  • originality

“independently created by the author” possessing “at least some minimal degree of creativity.”


“fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which [it] can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or indirectly with the aid of a machine or device... by or under the authority of the author" in a form that is "sufficiently permanent or stable to permit it to be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated for a period of more than transitory duration."

Eligible Works

Works Eligible for Copyright Protection Ineligible Works
Literary works Ideas, concepts, principles
Musical works, including any accompanying words Lists, procedures, processes, systems, methods of operation
Dramatic works, including any accompanying music Facts, discoveries
Pantomimes and choreographic works Typography, calligraphy
Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works Format, layout, blank forms
Motion pictures and other audiovisual works Reproductions, digitizations, or replicas of preexisting works
Sound recordings Common symbols and designs
Architectural works Government publications (public domain)
Material contributed by the author of a compilation or derivative work

Preexisting material used in a compilation or derivative work (copyrights to preexisting material remain with rightsholder, where applicable)

Further reading

Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices, 3rd. ed. (2014).  Chapter 300: Copyrightable authorship: What can be registered.

Exclusive Rights


Preparation of derivative works

"a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications, which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a derivative work."


"sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending."

Public performance

"recite, render, play, dance, or act it, either directly or by means of any device or process or, in the case of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to show its images in any sequence or to make the sounds accompanying it audible."

Further reading

17 USC §106. Exclusive rights in copyrighted works

Note that these exclusive rights are limited by sections 107-122 of copyright law.

Duration of Copyright Protection

Eligible works are automatically protected from the moment of creation.

General term: Author's life + 70 years

Multiple authors: Last surviving author's life + 70 years

Works made for hire: 95 years from first publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter

Anonymous or pseudonymous works: 95 years from first publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter; unless the author's identity is later revealed in Copyright Office records, in which case protection reverts to the general term.

Note that these terms apply to works created on or after 1 Jan. 1978.

Further reading

US Copyright Office Circular 15A: Duration of Copyright.

Registration and Enforcement of Copyrights

Registration Procedure
  1. Complete the application for copyright registration
  2. Pay a nonrefundable filing fee
  3. Deposit a copy of the work being registered.

eCO Online Copyright Registration Portal

Processing time for e-filing: 6-10 months

Processing time for paper forms: 10-15 months

Benefits of Registration
  • Establish a public record of your copyright claim
  • Become eligible to file an infringement suit
  • Gain protection against importation of infringing copies from U.S. Customs Service
  • Registration within 3 months of publication or prior to an infringement confers eligibility for statutory damages and attorney's fees in infringement suits
  • Registration within 5 years of publication establishes prima facie evidence for the purpose of infringement suits.

Further reading

Copyright Registration FAQs

US Copyright Office Circular 1: Copyright Basics

Infringement and Enforcement of Copyrights FAQ from the US Copyright Office.

Additional Options to Copyright: Creative Commons Licensing

Creative Commons' "free, easy-to-use copyright licenses provide a simple, standardized way to give you permission to share and use your creative work— on conditions of your choice."

Choose a License tool:

Creative Commons platforms for sharing your creative work:

Faculty Copyrights and Work for Hire

Copyrights and Patents

"The ownership of any materials or processes developed solely by an ISM's individual effort and expense shall vest in the ISM and may be patented or copyrighted, if at all, by the ISM.

"The ownership of materials or processes produced solely for the College and at College expense shall vest in the College and may be patented or copyrighted, if at all, by the College.

"In those instances wherein materials or processes are produced by an ISM with College support, by way of use of significant personnel time, facilities or other College resources, the ownership of the materials or processes shall vest in (and be patented or copyrighted, if at all) the party designated by mandatory written agreement between the parties entered into prior to the production.

"Written agreements between ISMs and the College shall be forwarded to the Distance Education Committee for review and response."

Contract Between Delaware County Community College and Delaware County Community College Association of Higher Education for the Academic Years 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16, and 2016-17.  Article XV, Miscellaneous Contract Provisions.  Section 8: Copyrights and Patents.


"The amount of instructional work to be performed by the faculty during the academic year is defined as workload. Overload compensation shall be paid, in accordance with the salary schedule as attached, to persons assigned to perform instructional work in excess of the maximum workload. The maximum workload is defined as follows:

"The teaching of courses during the academic year equal to thirty (30) credit hours or thirty-one (31) contact hours. The number of hours required to reach maximum workload will be thirty (30) credit hours or thirty-one (31) contact hours. A contact hour is measured by the number of instructional hours and related laboratory hours scheduled by the College per week for each course taught during an academic year.

"For the purpose of this Article, laboratory hours will be calculated on the basis of three (3) laboratory hours equaling two (2) credit hours.

"An ISM assigned to develop program curricula, or courses shall receive as extended or released time, an amount of time as needed for the work to be accomplished as determined by the College. Programs determined to need supervision or assessment shall be assigned by the College and undertaken by an ISM by mutual agreement."

Contract Between Delaware County Community College and Delaware County Community College Association of Higher Education for the Academic Years 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16, and 2016-17.  Article IX, Workload.  Sections 1-2: Workload and Overload; Curricula Development, Supervision and Assessment. 

Academic Freedom

"ISMs are responsible for the educational progress of their students and advisees.  ISMs are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subjects, but they should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter that has no relation to their subjects.

"ISMs are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results, subject to the adequate performance of their other academic duties.

"ISMs are professional educators and members of a learned profession. ISMs, when fulfilling their professional duties shall perform those duties in a professional manner.

"When ISMs speak or write as citizens, they are free from College censorship or discipline, but their special position in the community imposes special obligations. As scholars and educational officers, they should remember that the public might judge their profession and the College by their utterances.  Hence they should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, and should show respect for the opinions of others, and shall make every effort to indicate that they are not speaking for the College."

Contract Between Delaware County Community College and Delaware County Community College Association of Higher Education for the Academic Years 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16, and 2016-17.  Article V, Instructional Staff Member Assignments and Responsibilities, Section 5: Academic Freedom.

Further reading

"Copyright, Distance Ed, & Intellectual Property." American Association of University Professors.

Rosini, Neil J.  "What's a 'Work for Hire' and Why Should You Care?" The Chronicle of Higher Education, 3 Dec. 2014.

Strom, D. "Intellectual Property Issues for Higher Education Unions: A Primer."  AFT Higher Education, Dec. 2002.

Walker, Tim.  "Legal Controversy Over Lesson Plans."  National Education Association.