What is Copyright?
Did you know that whenever you write a story or an essay for your class, or a drawing artwork , you automatically own the copyright to it? Copyright is a form of protection given to authors or creators of “original works of authorship” As the author; you alone have the right to do anything of the following: make and distribute copies, perform in public, and make “changes”.
All these are your creations and you would be very upset if someone just copied any of them without your permission. That’s where copyright comes in. Copyright law gives you set of rights that prevents people from copying your work and doings other things with your work that you may not like.
What is protected?
Copyright protects “original works of authorship” that are fixed in “a tangible form of expression.” Copyrightable works fall into the following categories:
- Literary (which includes computer software);
- Musical, including accompanying words;
- Dramatic, including any accompanying music;
- Pantomimes and choreography
- Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural;
- Motion pictures and other audiovisual pictures;
- Sound recording and architectural works
What is not protected?
Not everything is protected by copyright law. The following are categories of things that are not protected:
- Ideas, procedures, methods;
- Titles, names, short phrases, and slogans;
- Works that are not fixed (improvised speech or performance that is not written down or recorded);
- Works consisting entirely of information that is available and contains no originality (standard calendars, standard measures and rulers, lists or tables complied from public documents; and works by the S. government
Anyone who exploits the exclusive rights of copyright without the copyright owner’s permission commits copyright infringement. The exclusive rights f the copyright owner are not unlimited. There are some limitations on these rights. The most important limitation on these exclusive rights is the doctrine of “Fair Use”. The “Fair Use” doctrine allows limiting copyright of copyrighted works for educational and research purposes. The copyright law provides that copyrighting ” for news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research” is not an Infringement of copyright. Unless you are absolutely sure, relying on the doctrine of “Fair Use” to avoid seeking permission to copy a work is risky. There are no set rules about what kind of use is “fair” and what is “infringing”. The best course of action is simply to seek permission for all compiled material you intend to use. (Adapted from Copyright 101 for Schools by Tywanna Burton, NBCT.)