Skip to Content

Copyright in Scholarly Communication

The core purpose of copyright law is stated expressly in the Constitution.   Article I, section 8, clause 8 of the United States Constitution provides that Congress shall have the power: "to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."   Many believe that the Constitution attempted to adopt the Field of Dreams approach to the creation of works of authorship - the idea that "if you protect it, they will come."  By establishing this marketable right to the use of one's expression, copyright supplies the economic incentive to create and disseminate ideas. As the Supreme Court has recognized: "The immediate effect of our copyright law is to secure a fair return for an 'author's' creative labor.  But the ultimate aim is, by this incentive, to stimulate artistic creativity for the general public good."

Under current copyright law, not only do copyright owners have the right to publish and distribute the work, but they also have the right to control the public performance of a work, to control the making of adaptations of the work, and to control the reproduction of the work independent of what is done with that new copy.

--From the Purpose of Copyright by Lydia Pallas Loren

 Copyright Resources:

Copyright Quick Guide by Columbia University Library

US Copyright Office

Know Your Copy Rights