What is Copyright?
A copyright is an official declaration stating that an entity or individual owns the right to reproduce, publish, or sell a certain work of art or technology. A governing authority approves the copyright, which covers original writings, stage and film works, and many other creations.
Unless the owner of the copyright decides to transfer the rights to a second party through a creative commons license, no other individual is permitted to interfere with such rights. This implies that unless the holder of the copyright permits it, no other entity is allowed to reproduce the copyrighted material.
Using another person’s work is against copyright law in the US. Any person wishing to reproduce or use copyrighted material must seek permission from the owner of the copyright. However, creative works of art can be hired (leased). This involves paying the owner of the copyright a fee for the right to use his work without taking over ownership of it. That said, it is also possible to purchase a copyright from the holder.
To determine the owner of a copyright, the first thing a person should find is a copyright notice, if available, which will provide the copyright owner’s name and the date of issue.
If the information is not readily available, the owner of the copyright can be found by doing a copyright search. Data on ownership, registration, and transfer is readily available on the copyright office’s website.
If a person is looking for copyrights registered 40 years ago and onwards, he can find it by simply searching online using its registration number, name, or keyword. In addition, copyrights recorded from 1870 to 1977 can be found physically by looking through the copyright card catalog found at the Copyright Public Records Reading Room.
Differences between a Copyright, Patent, and Trademark
There are three ways to protect intellectual property rights (IPR):
Copyright protects authorship expressed in various tangible forms. Included here are books, works of art, songs, and movies. Copyright protection usually extends 70 years beyond the author’s natural life.
A patent protects new inventions such as manufactured items, machines, industrial processes, and chemical compositions. The interval of protection is dependent on the type of patent given. A design patent usually lasts 14 years, while a plant and utility patent lasts 20 years.
A trademark protects symbols, words, designs, and phrases that identify products made by different parties. Trademarks apply to logos, brand names, and slogans. They do not expire and usually last until the owner no longer requires them.
Things Not Protected by a Copyright
1. Methods, Ideas, and Systems
These comprise a number of works and include methods used to build or make things, scientific ideas or discoveries, technical or scientific methods, business procedures or operations, mathematical algorithms, formulas, and principles. Blank forms also fall in the category.
2. Commonly Known Information
This includes items usually considered to be owned by society in general. For example, weight and height charts, rulers, tape measures, and standard calendars. This is the category commonly referred to as “the sky is blue” since there is no individual who can claim authorship.
3. Choreographed Works
Choreography is defined as the steps followed in a dance routine. Choreographed works can’t be copyrighted unless the dance moves are recorded in a video or notated in one form or another. Speeches not transcribed prior to or after they are read also fall into the same category.
4. Titles, Names, Expressions, and Short Phrases
This category includes slogans, pseudonyms, catchphrases, titles of work, and product descriptions. For a wide-ranging description, it is always best to consult Circular 34 found at the copyright office.
In addition, recipes are included in this category. It is not possible to protect the ingredients used in a recipe although an individual may own the right to the recipe procedure. Other factors need to be considered before issuing a copyright, such as whether the author of the recipe included it as a special part of their cookbook. The recipe may contain parts that can be protected.
Copyrights offer authors a way to protect their work against plagiarism. Using another person’s work without his permission is a violation of copyright law and moral rights. With a copyright, a person is able to claim ownership of a work of art and protect it from abuse.
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