What Is Copyright?
- "the legal right, which the creator of an original work has, to only allow copying of the work with permission and sometimes on payment of royalties or a copyright fee" -- Dictionary of Information and Library Management, 2006.
What Can Be Copyrighted?
Three fundamental requirements:
Fixation: must be fixed on a tangible medium, like a piece of paper or video recording. An idea alone cannot be copyrighted.
Originality: not necessary for a work to be completely original. Works may be combined, adapted, or transformed in new ways that make them eligible for copyright protection.
Minimal creativity: must include something that is above and beyond the original. Creativity need only be extremely slight for the work to be eligible for protection.
What Cannot Be Copyrighted?
- Works in the public domain -- ideas and facts are in the public domain
- Words, names, slogans or other short phrases; names and slogans can be protected by trademark law, which offers stronger protection
- Blank forms
- Government publications, including judicial opinions; public ordinances; administrative rulings; data and statistics
- Works created by federal government employees as part of their official responsibilities
- Works for which copyright wasn't obtained or copyright has expired. In the U.S., books published before 1923 are in the public domain.
Four Basic Protections
- The right to make copies of the work
- The right to sell or otherwise distribute copies of the work
- The right to prepare new works based on the protected work
- The right to perform the protected work (such as a stage play or painting) in public