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-Mask art is its own class of protection just like copyright, trademark, or a patent. It is denoted by an m in a circle as in (M). Occasionally, possibly due to lazy designers, it is seen as a square instead of a circle. See images for details -Semiconductor masks are protected for 10 years -You can get away with quite a bit for academic work: “Notwithstanding the provisions of section 905 [17 USC 905], it is not an infringement of the exclusive rights of the owner of a mask work for– (1) a person to reproduce the mask work solely for the purpose of teaching, analyzing, or evaluating the concepts or techniques embodied in the mask work or the circuitry, logic flow, or organization of components used in the mask work;” [Bitlaw 17 USC 906] It even seems to say you can copy small pieces for commercial work as long as you don't copy the whole thing. Of course, you'll still have to abide by patent laws and see once again, see the disclaimer at the top.