Copyright Matters



UNM takes very seriously the importance of honoring copyright material and using copyright material only if UNM has a consent to use material. 

Copyright protection exists, in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. Works of authorship include the following categories:

(1) literary works
(2) musical works, including any accompanying words
(3) dramatic works, including any accompanying music
(4) pantomimes and choreographic works
(5) pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
(6) motion pictures and other audiovisual works
(7) sound recordings
(8) architectural works


In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work.



Anyone who violates any of the exclusive rights of the author or copyright owner is an infringer of the copyrighted materials. The owner or author is entitled to recover the actual damages as a result of the infringement of the copyrighted materials, and any profits from the infringement which were attributable to the infringement.



“Fair use” of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a “fair use,” the factors to be considered include—

 (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole, and
(4)  the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work


The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.



 The public domain contains creative materials that are not protected by copyright laws. There are several ways that works arrive in the public domain:

  • the copyright owner failed to follow copyright renewal rules;
  • the copyright owner dedicates a copyright to the public domain; or
  • copyright law does not protect this type of work.
  • all copyrights are expired as of 1924;
  • works published in the U.S. after 1923 but before 1964 – Initial term of 28 years, if not renewed the work falls into the public domain
  • works published in the U.S. after 1923 but before March 1, 1989 - Generally, if a work was published without copyright notice under the authorization of the copyright owner and the law does not provide an exception for the omission, the work is in the public domain

 Short phrases, Taglines, Facts, and Theories are not covered by copyright:

  • Short Phrase - an apple a day keeps the doctor away;
  • Taglines - Keep Calm and Carry On;
  • Facts - The Moon is an average of 238,855 miles away from Earth; and
  • Theories - Darwin's theory of evolution.



In the U.S., any work created by a federal government employee or officer is in the public domain, provided that the work was created in that person’s official capacity. E.g., during the 1980’s, a songwriter used words from a speech by President Ronald Reagan as the basis for song lyrics. The words from the speech were in the public domain so the songwriter did not need permission from Ronald Reagan.




The Use of Third-Party Copyright Material Memo was created to assist you in starting a copyright analysis.

The UNM Health System Process Flow Diagram was created to outline the internal copyright process to ensure proper compliance with copyright laws.

To request approval to use copyrighted material from a third party, please download and complete the Cover Letter for Copyright Consent and Consent to Use Copyright Materials forms. Once approved by your appropriate Medical or Staff Leader, please submit all materials to OUC for review using link below.




The sites listed here may be useful for the non-specialist and provide dozens of links to other sites.