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Basics of Copyright

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What is copyright?

Copyright is the collection of rights of creators of literary or artistic works that gives them control over their work and how their work may be enjoyed by others. An important fundamental principle to remember is that facts and ideas do not enjoy copyright protection; only specific expressions of ideas are protected by copyright.

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What rights does copyright give to the author/owner of a work?

The copyright owner/s shall have the exclusive right to carry out, authorize, or prevent the reproduction, distribution, sales, renting out, public display, public performance, public communication, and even the transformation of the work (Sec. 177, RA 8293).

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When does copyright protection of literary or artistic works commence?

Literary or artistic works are protected by copyright from the moment of their creation (Sec. 172, RA 8293). Registration is not​ required.​

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Are there works that are not protected by copyright?

There are works that do not enjoy copyright protection. These include:


  1. Works in the public domain;

  2. Any idea, procedure, system, method or operation, concept, principle, discovery, or mere data as such;

  3. News of the day and other miscellaneous facts having the character of mere items of press information;

  4. Official text of a legislative, administrative or legal nature, as well as any official translation thereof,  and,

  5. Works of the government. (Nos, 2, 3 and 4 are from Sec. 175 while No. 5 is from Sec. 176 of RA 8293)

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When is a work considered to be in the public domain?

A work is considered to be in the public domain if any of the following is true: 

  • The protection period for copyright has expired;

  • The work is not subject to copyright protection;

  • The copyright owner has clearly disclaimed ​ or waived​ his/her copyrights (for example,​ marking the work with a public domain notice). 

Note​: The non-appearance of a copyright notice on a copy of the work does​ not suggest that the work belongs to the public domain even if it is accessible on the Web or elsewhere.

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How do I find out if a work is in the public domain?

For works that are in the public domain because the author disclaimed or waived his or her copyright, the work is often accompanied by a notice to this effect. 


For other works, it may be necessary to determine if their copyright protections have expired. The expiry of copyright protection depends on the nature of the work, whether it has been published or not, and the date of death of the author. 

Note​: ​A single product or work may consist of numerous copyrights and these rights may have different owners, as well as different protection periods. For example, in a brochure comprising text and images, the text may belong to the public domain but the images may be under copyright protection. Hence, permission from the owner would still be required for the use of such images.

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How long does copyright protection last?

Literary and artistic works as well as their derivative works (such as translations and abridgments) are protected during the lifetime of the author and for fifty (50) years after his death or the death of the last surviving author, in cases of joint authorship.


Photographic and audio-visual works are protected for fifty (50) years from publication of the work or if unpublished, fifty (50) years from the making.


Works of applied art are protected for a period of twenty-five (25) years from the date of making.

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Are there any limitations to copyright?

Yes, there are limitations to copyright. While the general rule is that a creator’s work may not be used by others without the creator’s consent or permission, this rule is subject to the fair use exception.

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What is “fair use” doctrine?

The doctrine holds that the fair use of a copyrighted work for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching including multiple copies for classroom use, scholarship, research, and similar purposes is not an infringement of copyright (Sec. 185, RA 8293).
The factors considered for fair use include the following (Sec. 185, RA 8293):

  • The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial or for non-profit educational purposes; 

  • The nature of the copyrighted work;

  • The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

  • The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.  

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Is using copyrighted work for educational purposes automatically considered fair use and thus legally allowed?

No, not automatically. While using copyrighted work for educational purposes is consistent with fair use under the first factor on “purpose and character of use,” the other three factors for assessing fair use listed in Table 1 ( must also be considered. 

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What are Creative Commons Licenses?

Creative Commons Licenses are​ public licenses created by Creative Commons that allow anyone to use copyrighted works without obtaining express permission to do so, provided the user abides by the license conditions specified by the copyright owner.   

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Can I quote from a published work such as a textbook or an academic journal? 

Yes, but subject to fair use. “The making of quotations from a published work [does not constitute an infringement of copyright] if they are compatible with fair use and only to the extent justified for the purpose, including quotations from newspaper articles and periodicals in the form of press summaries: Provided, That the source and the name of the author, if appearing on the work, are mentioned;” (Sec. 184.b, RA 8293).

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Do I need to include the © symbol in my work?

Copyright symbol © is not necessary but can help remind users to respect copyright.

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Ownership Issues

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Who owns the copyright to my thesis/dissertation/capstone project?

As the creator of original work, you own the copyright. If you co-wrote it with others, then you co-own the same with your co-creators.

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Who owns other IP generated by students?

Students who are not employed by the University shall own all Intellectual Property and associated IP rights they create in the normal course of studies, subject to applicable University Use rights, EXCEPT when ownership belongs to the University in pursuant to Section 7, Section 8, and Section 9 of ADMU IP Policy (

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Who typically owns the IP generated by University/employees?

All rights in Intellectual Property devised, made, or created by an employee of the University in the course of his or her regularly assigned duties and activities of employment shall generally belong automatically to the University. This also applies to student employees.

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Who owns IP generated by visiting researchers?

The AIPO shall ensure that researchers not employed by or enrolled in the University, including visiting researchers, shall sign an agreement to be bound by ADMU IP Policy, including an agreement assigning to the University ownership of intellectual property created by them in the course of activities in connection with their association with the University, prior to any engagement of any research activity at the University. 

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Who owns IP in collaborative/funded work?

Works developed or created in the course of, or pursuant to, a scholarship sponsored by a third party under a separate agreement, a sponsored research or other third party agreement, the copyright of which shall belong to the University. Philippine government-funded research and development, wherein the copyright belongs to the University pursuant to the Technology Transfer Act of 2009

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