As a student, staff, or faculty member at an academic institution it is imperative to have an understanding of copyright and in particular of the four factors of fair use that allow for work to be used in an educational setting. If you aren’t sure that the material you are using for a project is allowable under the terms of fair use, try filling out the Columbia University Fair Use Checklist to see if your use qualifies.
You should also know that the author of a work has protected rights over that work automatically without copyright notice or registration. This protection involves the rights of the author to reproduce the work, to distribute it, to perform or display it in public, or to produce derivative works from it; these protections can last for decades and they can also be transferred by the author in part or in their entirety.
If you are working on a thesis or dissertation take a moment to learn about copyright – this Brandeis Copyright LibGuide is a good place to start.
Take a look at how the complete law is written by visiting the U.S. Copyright Office and viewing the Copyright Law of the United States.