Skip to main content

EMPOWER: Citing Sources: Copyright

And then there's Copyright

copyright symbolCopyright is a set of legal rights that an author has over his work for a limited period of time. Copyright covers everything from using images or sound files from the Web to photocopying. Copyright protects big corporations who have unique products, like Disney's Mickey Mouse. However, copyright also protects individual creators like professors and students. Every time we create something unique, our work is automatically protected by copyright, with or without the © symbol.

Most information is protected by copyright. The exception is work that is in the public domain, which can be reproduced or used by anyone. However, you still must credit the author.

Examples of Public Domain Sources:

  • U.S. government publications (ex. federal laws; the U.S. Constitution).
  • Copyright has been waived by the author (ex. "open source" software like the Linux operating system).
  • Works on which the copyright has expired (ex. some episodes of the Three Stooges).
  • Works created and first published before 1923 (ex. the plays of William Shakespeare)


You have completed the Citing Sources tutorial! Now you should be able to:

  • describe when to cite sources used in your work.
  • recognize the different parts of a citation.
  • list ways to avoid plagiarism.
  • understand the reasons for copyright.

If you are using EMPOWER as part of a course, log on to Blackboard and take the Citing Sources quiz.


Go back to the EMPOWER menu to choose another module.