What Is Copyright? Explaining How Copyright Works
The copyright is grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright law covers both published and unpublished works. A copyright lawyer can help you with a range of copyright matters from books, music, paintings, sculpture, and films, to computer programs, databases, advertisements, maps, and technical drawings.
WHAT DOES COPYRIGHT PROTECTION COVER?
- literary works, including novels, non-fiction books, poems, stage productions, newspaper, magazine, and web articles
- computer software, mobile applications, and databases
- films, musical works (from songs to symphonies), and choreography
- art, including paintings, sculpture, photographs, and drawings
- maps and ads
WHEN DOES COPYRIGHT PROTECTION START?
Copyright protection starts at the moment the work is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. Think of the moment scenes for a movie are shot and recorded. Those images are now afforded copyright protection. No one else can reuse those shots without permission.
WHAT RIGHTS DOES THE COPYRIGHT OWNER HAVE?
There are two types of rights under copyright:
Economic Rights – the owner/author/creator’s right to receive financial remuneration by others’ using his/her work. Examples provided by the World International Property Organization include:
- its reproduction in various forms, such as printed publication or sound recording
- its public performance, such as in a play or musical work
- its recording, for example, in the form of compact discs or DVDs
- its broadcasting, by radio, cable or satellite
- its translation into other languages
- its adaptation, such as a novel into a film screenplay
Moral Rights – These protect the non-economic interests. Again, from WIPO:
Examples of widely recognized moral rights include the right to claim authorship of a work and the right to oppose changes to a work that could harm the creator’s reputation.
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