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WHAT IS COPYRIGHT?
Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws
of the United States (title 17, U.S. Code) to the authors
of "original works of authorship," including literary, dramatic,
musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works.
This protection is available to both published and unpublished
works. Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act generally gives
the owner of copyright the exclusive right to do and to
authorize others to do the following:
- To reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords;
- To prepare derivative works based upon the work;
- To distribute copies or phonorecords of the work
to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership,
or by rental, lease, or lending;
- To perform the work publicly, in the case of literary,
musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes,
and motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
- 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; and
- In the case of sound recordings, to perform the
work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.
In addition, certain authors of works of visual art have
the rights of attribution and integrity as described in
section 106A of the 1976 Copyright Act. For further information,
request Circular 40, "Copyright Registration for Works of
the Visual Arts."
It is illegal for anyone to violate any of the rights
provided by the copyright law to the owner of copyright.
These rights, however, are not unlimited in scope. Sections
107 through 121 of the 1976 Copyright Act establish limitations
on these rights. In some cases, these limitations are specified
exemptions from copyright liability. One major limitation
is the doctrine of "fair use," which is given a statutory
basis in section 107 of the 1976 Copyright Act. In other
instances, the limitation takes the form of a "compulsory
license" under which certain limited uses of copyrighted
works are permitted upon payment of specified royalties
and compliance with statutory conditions. For further information
about the limitations of any of these rights, consult the
copyright law or write to the Copyright Office.
More on Copyright Basics...