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Understanding Copyright Law
Copyright law is a set of laws that is used to regulate things such as movies, plays, poems, musical compositions, drawings, paintings, sculptures, software, photographs, sculptures, literary works, choreographic works, radio broadcasts, televisions broadcasts and more. Copyright law is only regulated to cover the manner or form in which the information or material is expressed. For instance, it does not cover the idea or facts which are represented in a work. In instances where a copyright does not exist, patents or trademarks may be in place which can impose legal restrictions.
Copyright law states that the holder of the copyright has the right to make copies or reproduce the work to sell. They can also export or import the work, create derivative or adaptation of the original work, display or perform the work publicly and assign or sell the rights to someone else. Copyright law is set up to protect people from having someone do something with their copyrighted work or material. Someone that has a copyright may choose to exploit their copyrighted work, or they may choose not to. Many people debate whether copyright law and copyrights are moral rights or merely property rights. It is important to note that in the U.S. copyright law covers protection for published and unpublished works.
Copyright law protection covers a work from the time it is created in a tangible form. The author or creator of the work immediately holds the copyright to the work and it is the property of the author or creator. No one else can claim copyright to it, unless the original copyright holder (the author or creator) gives or sells the rights to another person.
Many people fail to understand that merely owning or possessing a work does not give them the copyright to it. Just because you have ownership of a copyrighted work does not mean that you own the copyright. Likewise, if you copy someone?s work and list their name on it, you are undertaking copyright infringement.
Many people also fail to understand when copyright protection is secured. The moment a work is written or created and it is in physical tangible form or recorded it falls under copyright law. While it is recommended to register your work through the Copyright Office, if your work is not registered and someone steals your work, they have violated your copyright. Using a copyright notice is not required by law. However, many recommended that the copyright notice or symbol be used so remind the general public that the piece is under copyright. Anything that is created after 1977 is protected by copyright law for the lifetime of the author of the creator, plus an additional 70 years after the creator?s death.
The public domain is a good source of information that is no longer under a copyright or work that was never under a copyright to begin with. Virtually all works that were created or published in the United States prior to 1923 are said to be in the public domain. Things that can be found in the public domain that are free of copyright law generally include generic facts and information, works that have a lapse in their copyrights (this encompasses works that were created prior to 1978) and materials and information put out by the United States government. In addition, you may find works in the public domain that are free of copyright law because it has been dedicated to the public domain.
Copyright infringement case Learning Copyright Law through Copyright Infringement Cases Copyright infringement cases can be both costly and time consuming. Considering copyright infringement is something that isn?t as easily defined as theft or speeding, there are numerous copyright infringement cases that are changing the way copyright law is viewed in the United States of America. By reviewing a few of these copyright infringement cases, you?ll be able to get a better idea of what is, and is not, acceptable use of copyrighted works. As a forward, however, you?ll need to know a little bit about copyright law. Most copyright lawsuits are brought to the courts because a copyright owner has found their copyright is being used outside the copyright laws. This usually means that the copyright holder hadn?t been asked for permission to use the work, or if they had, that the work is not being used in an agreed-upon context or they have not been paid royalties. The copyright infringement cases, listed below, give a sampling of what goes to the Supreme Court in copyright infringement. Feist Publications v. Rural Telephone Service Co (6th Cir. 1996) This copyright infringement case was brought upon the Supreme Court in 1996 regarding the copyright of a database. The supreme court, in this instance, decided that compilations of data (such as in a database) are only protected by copyright when they are ?arranged and selected in an original manner.? Although the level of originality needed to make the database copyright-able is not very high, the pages of a directory such as a phone book are not protect-able because the data contained therein is arranged geographically, then alphabetically. Because of this, the data was not original enough to warrant a copyright infringement charge, and the competing telephone company was allowed to tap into their competitors? database and use that data in their own work without liability. Princeton University Press v. Michigan Document Services, Inc (6th Cir 1996) This case has to do with the ?fair use? law, which is defined in the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. § 107. In this case, a photocopying service was sued for copyright infringement for making ?course packs? for the University of Michigan. In this case, a course pack was a group of reading materials assigned by a professor ? then the course pack was bound together by a professional copy shop. In the fair use system, there is a system available for payment of copyright fees to publishers whose works are used in course materials, the printing shop owner refused to pay the copyright cost. When it went to the Supreme Court, they analyzed the fair use code and found that it was NOT fair use, and the printing shop had to pay the copyright costs. As you can see, copyright infringement cases are cases in which someone violates the rights of a copyright owner, as provided by 17 USC §106, or of the author as provided in §106A. These copyright infringement cases can be taken to either criminal or civil court, and can carry with it a hefty fine. Copyright infringement cases are brought upon people who violate copyrights every day. In recent times, you?ll find many copyright cases in relation to electronic copyrights ? such as those you?d find on a website or PDF file, as well as other digital media such as music and audio files. It?s probable that you?ve seen copyright cases brought against the common person ? such as a child or family ? for downloading digital music in the form of MP3s. In the current internet age we?re in, it?s not surprising to see so many music and video copyright cases brought to us because of peer to peer file sharing made possible by the internet. You can be certain that until people know the rules of copyright, and downloading copyrighted material from the internet that we?ll see many more copyright cases.