What is copyright?
Copyright is a legal device that provides the author of a work of art, literature, or drama with the right to control how the work is used. Copyright protects any form of work that is tangible so that the author may gain the economic value for their work in order to continue to create new works.
What does copyright protect?
Copyright protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed. Other examples include websites, YouTube videos, online articles, blogs, videos, photographs, and many other types of works found online. (University of Maryland)
- Facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although the method of expression may be protected;
- Words, names, titles, slogans, or other short phrases or clauses, although they can be protected by trademark law if used in commerce to identify the source of goods or services;
- Blank forms and similar works designed to record rather than to convey information;
- Recipes or a mere listing of ingredients;
- Government works, such as statutes, regulations, public ordinances, administrative rulings and judicial opinions – Note, however, that other works of state or local governments may be subject to copyright protection
Who owns the copyright?
The original author or creator of the work owns the copyright, however, the copyright owner can transfer the copyright to another person or organization. A copyright holder may grant permission to another to use the work. This permission is often referred to as a “license.” The copyright, however, is not transferred and the copyright holder continues to have the rights outlined above, depending on the terms of the license.
What rights does a copyright holder have?
Copyright holders have the right to control the use of the copyrighted work, including the rights to:
- Make copies of the work
- Sell or otherwise distribute copies of the work;
- Make adaptations or modifications to the work (called a derivative work);
- Display or perform the work in public (such as performing a stage play, displaying a painting or showing a movie) in public.
Copyright holders also have the right to grant permission to others to copy, distribute, display or make derivative works, typically referred to as a license. Copyright holders can place limits on how someone can use their works. See below regarding copyright licenses.