Copyright Basics

Copyright is defined as the creator of a piece of intellectual work having the exclusive rights to that piece of work for a specified amount of time. This is sometimes known as a copyright patent. This includes the piece's publication, distribution, and adaptation. An intellectual property copyright was created to prevent copyright piracy and protect copyright information. After the copyright expires, it enters into public domain. Public domain is the group of intellectual property that is not owned or controlled by anyone. Anything in the public domain is allowed to be copyrighted by another person. Types of intellectual property include:

  • Poems
  • Theses
  • Plays
  • Literary works
  • Movies
  • Dances
  • Musical compositions
  • Audio recordings
  • Paintings
  • Drawings
  • Sculptures
  • Photographs
  • Software,
  • Radio and television broadcasts

When a person or corporation has control over a piece of intellectual property, they not only control is publication, distribution, and adaptation but also the money that comes in from that copyrighted material. Any money made from a copyrighted piece goes to the holder of the copyright. Copyright law is made legal in the United States Constitution under Article One, Section Eight, Clause Eight. It is known as the Copyright Clause. The Copyright Clause states that "The Congress shall have Power to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

Obtaining a Copyright

Obtaining a copyright is not difficult to do but the person wanting to copyright a piece of intellectual property must pass a tiny test to prove that the work is their own. All copyrights can be renewed in the United States before they expire. Copyrights usually last for the life of the author plus 50 to 70 years. A copyright gives the author of a piece of intellectual property certain exclusive rights:

  • To produce copies or reproductions of the work and sell those copies
  • To import or export the work
  • To create derivative works
  • To perform or display the work publicly
  • To sell or assign these rights to others
  • To transmit or display by radio or video

Copyright law is enforced throughout the country by courts and copyright lawyers. If individuals feel that their copyright has been infringed upon then they should consider hiring a copyright lawyer to weed out all of the paperwork.

Copyright Infringement

Copyright infringement is defined as the unauthorized use of material that is covered by copyright law, in a manner that violates one of the copyright owner's exclusive rights, such as the right to reproduce or perform the copyrighted work, or to make derivative works. A term that has become extremely popular in the media industry today is piracy. Piracy is the unauthorized copying and distribution of audio and visual media such as music, radio shows, television shows and movies.

Copyright infringement is more often than not referred to as theft because a person's ideas have been stolen by another person and used for their own personal and financial gain. Plagiarism can also fall into the category of copyright law. Plagiarism is the act of copying another person's work, usually the written word, and passing it off as one's own. Plagiarism can be avoided by giving credit where credit is due.

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