General Copyright Information
Generally, copyright protection is available for original works of art such as books, music, plays, pictures, movies, architecture and certain other works. Copyrights provide protection whether the work is published or unpublished and, unlike a patent, gives the artist positive rights, the right to work with the intellectual innovation.
Copyright protection protects creative works which have been incorporated into a tangible item, like a book, music, painting, movies. Copyright protection does not extend to functional ideas, rather they protect the tangible products created by those artists. Additionally, the copyright protection only extends to the original works of authorship embodied in the tangible items.
Under Copyright Law, the copyright holder has an exclusive right to reproduce the authored work, prepare alternative embodiment’s of the work (derivative works), distribute copies and for some categories of art, publicly perform and publicly display the work. These rights are very valuable because they allow the copyright owner to not only use the work but also prevent others from using the work.
Thanks to the Copyright Term Extension Act, for works created after 1978, in the case of an individual artist, these rights last for the life of the artist plus seventy (70) years. For a business, the duration is ninety-five (95) years from publication or 120 years from creation.
Under the Copyright laws, it is illegal for anyone to violate any of the copyright owners rights (infringement). However, the Copyright laws also provide for some defenses and in some cases exemptions from liability. One common exemption is the doctrine of “fair use” which permits infringement of another’s work in some special circumstances. In other instances, the Copyright laws allow another to use a copyrighted work with the use of a “compulsory license” under which certain uses are permitted after payment of specified royalties and compliance with other requirements.