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What is a Copyright? ©

A Copyright is best described as a set of rights granted by the government for the expressions of ideas or information.

Quite literally, it is the set of rights the owner has to allow copies of the expression to be made.

In the United States, the following classifications of expressions of ideas are bound by copyright law:
(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; and
(8) architectural works.

In the United States, U.S. Code Title 17 controls copyright law.

How Long Does a Copyright Last?

The duration of a copyright can be measured by when a work was created.

Works created on or after January 1, 1978 are measured generally for 70 years after the life of the author. That means that the copyright expires 70 years after the author’s death. In the case of a joint work, the 70-year time period is measured after the last author’s death.

Works that are works for hire, the term is 95 years from the date of its first publication, or 120 years from the date the work was created.

Do I Need to File and Register a Copyright?

No – and yes.

Although that sounds like a silly answer, a Copyright does not need to be registered with the United States in order to exist.

A work is fixed as long as it is in a tangible medium.

Once a work is fixed, is it written, so a copyright exists in the work.

In order to bring a lawsuit for copyright infringement, a copyright must be registered.

What is an Author? What is a Joint Work?

An author is a person who contributes to a work.

A joint work is a work prepared by two or more authors with the intention that their contributions be merged into inseparable or interdependent parts of a unitary whole, according to U.S. Code 17, Section 101.

What is Fair Use?

A derivative work is a work that is based upon another work.

The owner of a copyright can block the use of a work in another, derivative work.

According to Fair Use, U.S. Code 17 Section 107 states that there are times when a copyright owner cannot stop that use.

These uses include criticism, comment (examples: satire or review), news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research. There are several factors that are considered in determining if the original work was fairly used in the new work.

What is Copyright Infringement?

Copyright Infringement is defined by U.S. Code Title 17, Section 501.

Infringement occurs when any of the exclusive ownership rights as defined by Sections 106 and 122 are broken.

This does include the impermissible use of a copyrighted work, but there are many different types of rights enumerated.