What is Copyright?

What is Copyright?

Copyright allows the creator of a work the right to determine how the work is used. The right applies to "original works of authorship" - literary, dramatic, musical, artistic and certain other intellectual works.

For newspapers, that means stories, columns, features, headlines, cutlines, graphics and photos are all protected.
Section 106 of the Copyright Act allows the owner to control the following uses of the copyrighted work:

  • To reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords;
  • To prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work;
  • To distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale
  • or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
  • To perform the copyrighted work publicly, in the case of literary, musical,
  • dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other
  • audiovisual works; and
  • To display the copyrighted work publicly, in the case of literary, musical,
  • dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural
  • works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work.

There are some exceptions to copyright privileges. Sections 107 through 119 of the Copyright Act ouline the limitations on copyright.

Fair Use

One major limitation is the doctrine of "fair use," which is covered in Section 107. Certain limited uses of copyrighted works are permitted upon payment of specified royalties and compliance with statutory conditions.

Works for hire

In the case of works made for hire, the employer and not the employee is considered the author. Section 101 of the copyright statute defines a "work made for hire" as:
(1) a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment; or
(2) a work specially ordered or commissioned for use as a contribution to a collective work, as a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, as a translation, as a supplementary work, as a compilation, as an instructional text, as a test, as answer material for a test, or as an atlas, if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire...

Copyright generally lasts for the life of the author, plus 50 years. Copyright protection begins at the time the work is created in fixed form. The copyright in the work of authorship immediately becomes the property of the author who created it. Only the author or those deriving their rights through the author can claim copyright.

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