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Copyright - basics: Copyright

from—Plagiarism Today

Mystery Writers of America

Top 10 Myths About Copyright  by Daniel Steven.

Mr. Steven is both a novelist and a lawyer.

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Four Common Questions

What is Copyright?

What Can be Copyrighted?

What Cannot be Copyrighted?

What Does Copyright Project?

What is Copyright?

What is Copyright?

Simply put, “copyright is a legal device that provides the creator of a work of art or literature, or a work that conveys information or ideas to control how the work is used.”The intent of copyright is to advance the progress of knowledge by giving an author of a work an economic incentive to create new works.

What is Can be Copyrighted?

What Can be Copyrighted?

Tangible, original expression. This means, for example, that a verbal presentation that is not recorded cannot be copyrighted. However, anything that is tangible can be copyrighted. There are three fundamental requirements for something to be copyrighted:

   → Fixation:

The item must be fixed in some way. The fixation must be almost anything. For example, a piece of paper, a computer disk, a CD, or a DVD are all legitimate forms of fixation.

   → Originality:

The work must be original. Originality includes a novel or a student's email message to a professor. Both are considered examples of original expression. It is not necessary for the work to be completely original. Works may be combined, adapted, or transformed in new ways that make them eligible for copyright.

   → Minimal Creativity:

The work must include something that is above and beyond the original. Verbatim use is not considered original. Reference to the original work that is used to discuss a new concept would be considered original, however. Creativity need only be extremely slight for the work to be eligible for protection.

What Cannot be Copyrighted ?

Works in the public domain:

  • Ideas are in the public domain.
  • Facts are in the public domain.
  • Words, names, slogans, or other short phrases also cannot be copyrighted. However, slogans, for example, can be protected by trademark law.
  • Blank forms
  • Government works, which include:
         Judicial opinions
         Public ordinances
         Administrative rulings
  • Works created by federal government employees as part of their official responsibility.
  • Works for which copyright wasn't obtained or copyright has expired (extremely are!).

What Does Copyright Protect?

Copyright provides authors fairly substantial control over their work, although in order to publish their works many authors assign those rights to their publishers. The four basic protections are:

  • The right to make copies of the work
  • The right to sell or otherwise distribute copies of their work
  • The right to prepare new works based on the protected work
  • The right to perform the protected work (such as a stage play) in public