Cite it/Copyright and Plagiarism

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Copyright or Copy Wrong?

Did you know that whenever you write a poem or story or even a paper for your class, or a drawing or other artwork, you automatically own the copyright to it. Copyright is a form of protection given to the authors or creators of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic and other intellectual works. What that means is that, as the author of the work, you alone have the right to do any of the following or to let others do any of the following:

- make copies of your work;

- distribute copies of your work;

- perform your work publicly (such as for plays, film, dances or music);

- display your work publicly (such as for artwork, or stills from audiovisual works, or any material used on the Internet or television); and

- make “derivative works” (including making modifications, adaptations or other new uses of a work, or translating the work to another media).

In general, it is illegal for anyone to do any of the things listed above with a work created by you without your permission, but there are some exceptions and limitations to your rights. One major limitation is the doctrine of “Fair Use.”

Copyright law in the United States is embodied in federal laws enacted by Congress. The current copyright law, the Copyright Act of 1976 (as amended), is codified in Title 17 of the U.S. Code.


Copyright Guidelines

How Much Material Can I Use in My Presentation?

Answers to Common Copyright Questions

What is Fair Use?

Fair Use is an exception to Copyright Law allowing the use of media in a reasonable manner and for educational purposes without needing permission from the copyright owner. Four factors are involved when determining if you can use Fair Use:

1. The purpose of the use (What are you using it for?)

2. The nature of material (What type of material is it? Video, website, book?)

3. The amount of material being used (How much are you using?)

4. The effect on the market for the work (Are you profiting from using the material?)

Fair Use Evaluator

Fair Use Summary on

Fair Use Analysis

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is passing off someone else's work as your own.


  • turning in someone else's work as your own
  • copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit
  • failing to put a quotation in quotation marks
  • giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation
  • changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit
  • copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not.