Copyright is legal protection for “original works of authorship” fixed in any tangible medium expression, including papers, journal articles, course materials, software, databases, and audiovisual works. Digital products and files are also tangible forms. Pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law, these works must be original and exist in some physical form. See 17 U.S.C. § 102.

Copyright Registration and Notice 

While registration with the U.S. Copyright Office isn't required for protection, it's advisable to mark Georgia Tech-owned materials with a copyright notice, in a format similar to the following:

© 2023
Georgia Institute of Technology or Georgia Tech Research Corporation
All rights reserved.

[Copyright symbol or word, “Copyright” and Year of first publication of the work]
[Name of the copyright owner]
[Reservation of rights]

This is particularly important for works posted online.

Copyright Duration and Public Domain 

Copyright protection begins the moment the work is expressed in a tangible form and varies in duration:

  • For works created by an individual: Life of the author plus 70 years.
  • For anonymous or hired works: 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter.
  • Works published before 1927* are in the public domain. *Note: This threshold year increases each January 1st for the next 50 years. For instance, on January 1, 2024, it will advance to 1928.
  • Works published between 1923 and 1963:

  • If copyright was renewed, the work is protected for 95 years from date of publication.

  • If it wasn’t renewed, the work is in the public domain.

Despite the misconception that internet content is in the public domain, it’s wiser to presume that nearly all online materials, including text, images and recordings, are protected by copyright.

Fair Use

Fair use permits use of copyrighted work without the copyright owner’s consent. It is a defense, not a right. Fair use is determined by a four-factor analysis:

  1. Purpose and character of the use;
  2. Nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. Amount and substantiality of work used; and
  4. Effect of the use on the work’s market. 

To determinate if a desired use of copyrighted materials is “fair use,” please consult University of System of Georgia (USG)’s Fair Use Checklist or the U.S. Copyright Office’s Fair Use Index.

For questions or information on fair use, the Scholarly Communications Librarian is available to assist. Please visit the Scholarly Communication Librarian’s webpage at:

Navigating Scholarly Works: Intellectual Property (IP) Policy and Open Access at Georgia Tech

Under Georgia Tech's IP policy, employees retain copyrights to their scholarly works, such as textbooks and journal articles, unless they are part of a sponsored research project or specific Institute assignment. See GT Policy § 5.4.3 Ownership of Intellectual Property. Georgia Tech’s Open Access to Faculty Publications policy requires faculty to permit nonexclusive open dissemination of their scholarly articles via the Georgia Tech Digital Repository, maintained by the Georgia Tech Library. See GT Policy § 5.5 Policy on Open Access to Faculty Publications.

The Georgia Tech Digital Repository allows authors to retain their copyrights while granting the Institute a non-exclusive license for educational distribution and preservation. Accordingly, faculty members should carefully review publication agreements for their scholarly works to ensure compliance with the Open Access policy before relinquishing any rights. 

Additionally, Georgia Tech Library’s scholarly communication program provides support in managing personal copyrights and navigating federal access policies, such as the NIH Public Access Policy. For questions or assistance with the Georgia Tech Digital Repository, please contact the Georgia Tech Library at

Office of Technology Licensing (OTL)

For assistance and questions about scholarly or creative works developed under sponsored agreements or other specific Institute assignments, please contact OTL in Georgia Tech Research Corporation (GTRC). OTL assists with proper IP release of such works and ensures there are no contractual or other restrictions. 

In addition, OTL provides guidance in determining IP rights ownership and manages licensing of software and other copyrightable materials. To contact OTL, please visit their website at:

Copyright Infringement

Infringement, the unauthorized use of copyrighted works like YouTube videos, Google images, or translated material without permission, violates copyright owners' rights. It can result in criminal or civil consequences, including penalties ranging from $200 to $150,000 per infringement, plus attorney’s fees and court costs and/or injunction. Additionally, these actions may violate the Georgia Tech Student Honor Code, IP policy, and Code of Ethics. Given these severe penalties, copyright infringement should never be taken lightly.

Georgia Tech’s Copyright Infringement Response

At Georgia Tech, the Office of Information Technology – Cyber Security manages copyright infringement complaints through specific procedures. Complaints are issued from various sources, like the RIAA, MPAA, and BSA as well as individuals. Complaints involve removal of infringing works and include Take-Down notices, Pre-Litigation notices, and Subpoenas.

While Georgia Tech is not a copyright enforcement agency, it fulfills a legal obligation to respond to infringement complaints, ensuring the removal of unauthorized materials and upholding intellectual property rights. Consequences for Georgia Tech students, faculty, staff and affiliates’ violations, including network access suspension and potential disciplinary actions, escalate based on the infringement's severity. 

For detailed information on Georgia Tech’s Copyright Infringement Complaint Response Procedures, please visit Georgia Tech Cyber Security website at:

Responsible Use of Course Materials

Georgia Tech encourages responsible use and distribution of course materials, aligning with copyright laws and academic integrity. Unauthorized sharing, especially on platforms like Course Hero, violates both the Georgia Tech Student Code of Conduct and copyrights of Georgia Tech faculty. See Section D. Prohibited Academic Conduct, Paragraph #9, Georgia Tech Student Code of Conduct

Faculty are advised to clearly mark their materials with copyright notices and, as copyright owners, can request online service providers to disable access or remove their scholarly works through notices under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Please check out Legal Affairs’ guidance on Responsible Use of Course Materials for more detailed information.

For additional guidance, please visit Cornell University Library’s How to Request the Removal of Infringing Material, including a Sample DMCA Copyright Notice Claim template and the U.S. Copyright Office’s DMCA Agent Directory.

The Copyright Claims Board (CCB)

The CCB, established in 2020, offers a cost-effective forum for small infringement claims, eliminating the need to go through federal court. Infringement awards are capped at $15,000 per infringement, or $30,000 total. 

Should you receive a CCB claim notice, it’s important not to ignore it. If it concerns your work at Georgia Tech, please contact Legal Affairs immediately. For claims related to external activities, please consult with an IP attorney.

For the latest on CCB rules and policies, please visit the CCB website at:

For legal questions about copyright and fair use or CCB claim assistance, please contact Legal Affairs at Ask Legal <>.