Copyright - How does it affect us?
What is copyright?
Copyright protection is provided by US law (title 17, US Code) to anyone who creates an original work including books, articles, movies, music, TV shows, magazines, photography, art, song lyrics and more.
It is illegal for anyone to violate any of the rights provided by the copyright
law to the owner of copyright. Only the owner of the work can grant permission to copy, distribute, perform or display the work.
What does this mean? Don't download pictures on the Internet without permission. If the photographer or artist doesn't state on the site that you may copy or download the image, then you must get written permission from them to do do. Copyright protection is automatic! The website doesn't have to tell you can't download because that's the law.
Copyrightable works include the following categories:
1 literary works
2 musical works, including any accompanying words
3 dramatic works, including any accompanying music
4 pantomimes and choreographic works
5 pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
6 motion pictures and other audiovisual works
7 sound recordings
8 architectural works
Source: US Copyright Office
If you are not sure if the use of a work is allowed under fair use or whether the work is in the public domain, DON'T USE IT!
Exceptions to copyright
There are three exceptions/limitations to copyright protection.
Fair Use: Grants the reasonable use of copyrighted materials in special circumstances without obtaining permission from the copyright holder. Work used for criticism, parody, comment, news reporting, teaching scholarship, or research may fall under the Fair Use exception.
This is not a free pass to use copyrighted material! Courts consider the purpose and character of the use - is it for profit or non-profit educational use? Is the original work creative or factual? Finally, the amount of the original work used and how this use affects the value or market value of the original work impacts determining if the use of a work is considered fair use.
Example: The court ruled that a book of trivia questions about "Seinfeld" as not fair use. The TV show was fiction which makes it a creative (not factual) work which gives it additional protection.
Example: A TV biography about Muhammed Ali which had 14 films clips of his fights did not violate copyright according to the courts. Ali was a public fighure and the biography is of public interest. The film clips were not the focus of the show and not likely to impact the market value of a motion picture on Ali's life.
Source: Copyright Kids
Public Domain: Works that fall into the public domain belong to everyone and can be used by anyone. They included information which is commonly available and not attributable to a specific author, works produced by our government, or works which, due to their age, no longer are covered by copyright.
Compulsory License: Some limited uses of copyrighted works are permitted upon payment of fees. For example, singers pay royalties to song writers in order to perform and record their songs.
Source: US Copyright Office