Landman Library

Copyright Glossary

Throughout these webpages, “author” is used to refer to producers of many types of copyrighted works, not just written works. This broad use of the word follows the convention of the US Copyright Office which you can see right from the opening paragraph of this official PDF.

derivative work
A work that incorporates to some degree another work that is already protected by copyright. The producer of the derivation can only copyright the portion that is not already copyrighted. Examples include: language translations, rendering of an original work in another medium.

Read details at

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)
The DMCA became federal law in 2000. A complicated piece of legislation which updated the Copyright Code of the U.S., it addressed among other issues the creation of archival copies of digital works, non-circumvention of technology protections, and compliance with international copyright agreements.

Read brief overview at The UCLA Online Institute for Cyberspace Law and Policy.

due diligence
Suitable investigative effort applied to avoid wrongdoing. With regard to copyright this can mean the effort of obtaining copyright permission or determining copyright ownership.

Read the definition at

Fair Use
A provision of the U.S. Copyright Code that permits use of copyrighted material without explicit permission of the copyright owner under certain conditions.

Read details.

public domain
Public domain is a status that a created work can have that does not have copyright protection because it doesn’t comply or has fallen out of protection. Works in the public domain may be used freely. Don’t forget to cite your source! 

Read details at

The Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization Act (TEACH Act) became federal law in 2002. It updated Section 110(2) of the Copyright Code to accommodate the electronic needs of distance education.

Read analysis at


work made for hire
A work produced as a function of the producer’s employment. Instead of the producer being the copyright holder, the employer is. A negotiated agreement may give the producer copyrights.

Read details at