What is Copyright?

According to the United States Copyright Office (Copyright Basics, 2008), it is the legal protection of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works.

Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do the following:

  • Reproduce the work
  • Prepare derivative works based upon the work
  • Distribute copies of the work to the public
  • Perform the work publicly, live or as a recording
  • Display the work publicly, including the individual images of a motion picture of other audiovisual work


This document is a policy statement only and is not intended to replace the advice of legal counsel.

For more information, please contact Jessica Bell, Director, Office of the Library and Instructional Design, MGH Institute of Health Professions.


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