An exclusive right bestowed upon the owner of creative works is known as a copyright, a form of intellectual property. This legal protection allows the owner sole authority to reproduce the work for a specific period. Copyright encompasses various forms of artistry, such as literature, drama, film, music, and architectural designs. Its purpose is to safeguard the unique expression within these creations rather than the underlying ideas.
Ownership of copyright grants control over how others may utilize and adapt the work. Permission can be given to copy, publicly perform, or transform it into another medium (e.g., adapting a book into a movie). The owner also has the power to sell or transfer their copyright to someone else.
In the United States, federal law governs copyright regulation – most notably through the Copyright Act passed in 1976. This act protects works produced on or after January 1st of that year.
Copyright protection automatically applies in America; no registration with any office or inclusion of a copyright notice is required upon creating a work. When an original creation takes shape, its creator becomes its rightful copyright holder.
Nevertheless, registering a work with the copyright office can yield certain advantages. One key benefit is the ability of the copyright owner to seek damages and attorneys’ fees if someone violates the rights of a registered work.
The duration of copyright protection spans the author’s life plus an additional 70 years. In instances with multiple authors, this protection covers the life of the longest-living author plus 70 years.
Upon expiration of copyright, a work enters the public domain, granting permission-free access to anyone interested in utilizing it.
While copyright protection is generally observed, some exceptions offer limited flexibility. The doctrine of “fair use” permits select uses of copyrighted material for restricted purposes like criticism, commentary, news reporting, teaching, or scholarship.