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Exploring Copyright

Exploring Copyright


For interested parties to learn about copyright law.

This tutorial is designed to help learners explore how copyright works and why it exists.  The resources presented here are varied to provide the learner with an option to explore the topic through his or her preferred mode of learning.    

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This tutorial is designed to help you gain a basic understanding of copyright law.  By the time you complete your exploration here you should be able to explain the following.

  • What copyright is 
  • What it protects
  • How long that protection lasts
  • What is not protected under copyright
  • How copyright protection is attained

One thing you should also keep in mind as you develop your understanding of copyright is that it is a much more complicated thing then is implied here.  There are many grey areas to copyright law as you will see more when you get into the ideas of Fair Use.  

Copyright Basics Presentation

Copyright Basics

This document (available at provides a thorough explanation of Copyright law including definition, a brief history, and explanation of how one secures copyright, what is and is not protected under copyright law, etc.


Source: Library of Congress. "Copyright Basics." U.S. Copyright Office. Washington D.C.: Lib. of Cong., 2012. 1-12.

Copyright In Cartoon Form

Here's another great resource from Library of Congress.  Taking the Mystery out of Copyright is a series of four animated videos explaining what copyright is, how it works, and how to go about attaining copyright for you original works.  The videos do a fair job of explaining copyright, but the series is not as in depth as the Office of Copyright document above. 


Taking The Mystery Out Of Copyright

Source: Library of Congress

Over and Above

If you would like to look into this issue more thoroughly, take a look at the link below from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).  The FBI is very involved in the intellectual property theft.  Here they explain their role and if you scroll to the bottom of the page you will find a section titled "In Depth" where you find a number of FBI resources including and article outlining the "Dangers of Peer to Peer Networks," case studies, court cases, etc. 

Intellectual Property Theft Resources from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

Source: "Intellectual Property Theft." The Federal Bureau of Investigation. United States Government, n.d. Web. 28 Dec. 2012. .

Over and Above

"Good Copy Bad Copy" is a 2007 documentary about copyright law and the music industry, peer to peer sharing, and the internet. Watch for an in depth understanding of the complicated nature of copyright in our current digital landscape.

Source: Johnsen, Andreas, Ralf Christensen, and Henrik Moltke, dirs. Good Copy Bad Copy. Rosforth, 2007. Good Copy Bad Copy. Web. 1 Dec. 2013. .