Copyright & Use Glossary

As you gather media assets like images, videos, sound effects or music for your project, it’s important to understand the rules and regulations for use of material that is not your own. This glossary is a guide to help you understand the basic terminology of copyright and use.

Copyright: The exclusive legal right, given to an originator or an assignee to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same.

Copyright Notice: A short piece of text or written statement that informs the public of an owner’s legal copyrights, including the copyright symbol, date and name of copyright owner. For example: © 2020 Berkeley Advanced Media Institute. All rights reserved.

Trademark: Where copyrights protect creative works, trademarks protect brands, logos and commercial phrases like slogans. Trademarks use the symbols ™ or ®.

Patent: The grant of property rights to an inventor for a design, process or invention. 

Licensing: The act of granting a license permitting the use of something or to allow an activity to take place.

Attribution: Acknowledging the author of a work. It most often requires the person’s name with the copyright symbol, and a link back to the source.

Public Domain: The state of belonging or being available to the public as a whole, and therefore not subject to copyright (be sure to check public domain status in each country.)

Creative Commons (CC): A nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools. CC provides a standardized way to grant copyright permissions to an organization, individual or company’s creative work. Users are then granted a pool of content that can be copied, distributed, edited, remixed, and built upon, all within the boundaries of copyright law.

Royalty-Free: This generally indicates paying a one-time fee in exchange for the right to use a photograph, or media asset that is copyrighted, patented or trademarked according to agreed upon terms, with no ongoing license fees due for further use. This does not mean that the work is copyright free. The key here is to read the license terms and conditions, as often there are restrictions on how the asset can be used.

Disclosure: Making private information public, for the purpose of promoting transparency. For example, publications may require authors to reveal interests or influence between them and a subject. 

Disclaimer: A statement made to define or limit obligations. It may be used in situations where there is a certain level of risk, wherein a disclaimer can be made to limit the responsibility associated with that risk.

Fair Use Act: Within U.S. copyright law, allows limited use of copyrighted material under certain circumstances without the need to gain permission from the copyright holder. Use depends on purpose of use, effect on the market, amount of work being used and nature of the original work. 


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