There are some exceptions to the rights granted to authors.
Copyright protects the expression of an idea, but not the idea itself. Anything that can be easily discovered independently by someone else is uncopyrightable. For example,
But even if something is copyrighted there are still certain limits to the author's rights. These limits are collectively called the Fair Use Doctrine and are codified in Section 107 of the United States Federal Code Title 17. Fair use is not so much a set of rules as it is principles which guide a court when dealing with charges of copyright infringement.
When determining whether the use of a copyrighted work is fair, all of the following factors must be considered:
The bottom line is that if the reproduction or duplication replaces or nearly replaces the need for the original copyrighted work, it is not fair use. However, if the use promotes learning and creativity without significant harm to the copyright owner, it is fair.
To bring this point home, it is copyright infringment to photocopy large portions of a required textbook instead of buying your own copy. But it is acceptable to photocopy selected pages of a book or periodical for quick reference as you work on a research paper.
Disclaimer: The information presented on this page is not legal advice.
Images used herein were obtained from IMSI's MasterClips and MasterPhotos Premium Image Collection, 1895 Francisco Blvd. East, San Rafael, CA 94901-5506, USA.