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Copyright: Exceptions

Exceptions to Copyright Law

Good news! It is not always necessary to obtain permission or pay a licensing fee before using a copyrighted work.

Two important exceptions to copyright law are Fair Use and Public Domain. Refer to these pages to find out more:

Some images are licensed for public use by the copyright holder. Find out more about free online images here:


In addition, some categories of works are not eligible for federal copyright protection. Therefore, you are free to use them without asking permission. These include:

  • titles, names, short phrases, and slogans
  • familiar symbols or designs
  • listings of ingredients of contents
  • ideas, procedures, methods, systems, concepts, principles, discoveries, or devices (as distinguished from a description, explanation, or illustration)
  • works consisting entirely of "common knowledge" information with no original authorship, such as height and weight charts, tape measures and rulers, lists or tables taken from public documents