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Copyright is a form of protection granted by U.S. law to the creators of “original works of authorship” including scholarly and creative works. It gives creators certain exclusive rights. Creators do not have to register their work or attach a copyright notice in order for copyright protection to apply to the work; the protection exists automatically from the time the work is created.

Copyright protections apply to both scholarly and creative works that you create and works that you use.

If you want to use a work for a project or class, and are unsure if you need permission from the copyright holder, you can consult copyright information provided by the CUNY Office of Legal Affairs.

Even though copyright protections are automatic, there is also a lot of multi-media and educational content available for reuse. In cases where an individual wants to make a work they created available for others to use, they may opt to use a Creative Commons license that specifies exactly how others can use their work. The Creative Commons search widget  on the right side of this page will let you search for reusable multimedia content. Scholars can also opt to publish their works in Open Access journals or negotiate with publishers to retain some rights to their work.

What can you do to make your own work available? You can license your own scholarly and creative work through Creative Commons or use an author addendum before agreeing to a restrictive publication agreement.

Fair Use

Fair use is a limitation on the exclusive rights of a copyright holder. If a proposed use meets the “fair use” criteria, and the user hasn’t agreed to abide by other terms—such as through a license agreement or a website’s terms of use—a copyrighted work may be used without permission.

Icon Image Attributions

All icons used on the CCNY Libraries home page are from The Noun Project and are licensed as Creative Commons CCBY.

By Alice Design

By Artnadhifa, ID

By Graphic Tigers

Video Tutorial
By Deemak Daksina

Book Exchange
by Royyan Wijaya

Computer Repair
By Ava Mba


By Trevor Dsouza, IN

By Alyssa Mahlberg, US

By Iconosphere

By Angelina

By Adrien Coquet