The Copyright Information Guide

Posted: 7/26/2009

Lots of people have heard of the term copyright, but most people don't understand how extensive the copyright process is. They also don't realize the legal terms, and ramifications for copyrighted material. This article outlines the many terms that are associated with legally protecting one's creative works. It also provides links for research, and helps to clarify why it is important to legally protect products and ideas. The following is broken down into four sections:

A. Copywrite Definitions:

Collective Work: If you publish a story, or contribute any works to any compilation, then you can register your work for its own copyright. The compilation itself will be covered by a copyright, and your work will have its own copyright.

Compilation: A Compilation is a collection of writings or other creative works. Usually these creative works are published together in one single book. 

Compulsory License: This license gives a person to use someone else’s work without their permission. However, the person wanting to use the work without permission has to pay a fee.

Copyright: A copyright gives someone the legal right to use a creative work. The creative work can be bought, reproduced, or distributed.

Derivative Work: Derivative Works are creative works that are based on previous creations.  An example of a derivative work would be a collage.

Exclusive Right: An owner of a copyright has exclusive rights. These exclusive rights gives them the right to create derivative works, sell or copy the works, and to display the works.

Expression: An expression is the finished product of a creative work. A book, drawing, sculpture are examples of artistic expression.

Fair Use: Fair use is using a quote or a small reproduction of the creative work without having to get the copyright owner’s permission. An example of this would be a “sample” used in music.

First Sale Doctrine: The law gives permission to the purchaser of copywritten work to sell a copy of the work without getting permission.

Fixation: Fixation is a real form of ideas or a body of work.

Idea: An idea is anything that a person thinks about or imagines.

Infringement: In general, infringement is breaking the law. Copyright infringement is when a person uses copyrighted work without permission of the copyright holder.

Intellectual Property: Intellectual Properties are ideas or creations that belong to someone.

License: A license gives permission. In this case, a license would give permission for the use of a work.

Master Use License: This license gives permission to use a recorded body of work as a part of a visual body of work.

Moral Rights: Moral rights protect visual works of art. For example, a person can’t claim to be the artist, or lay claim to the work of art.

Parody: A parody is a body of work that is recreated based upon a previous body of work. The parody is usually meant to be funny, or poke fun of the original body of work.

Patent: A patent protects intellectual property of an invention or idea. No one else can copy this idea exactly as it is.

Performing Rights: Performing Rights are a part of the copyright holder’s exclusive rights. This gives the copyright holder permission to perform their body of work in public.

Permission: Another word for permission in this case would be to get a license from the copyright holder to use their work for your purposes.

Public Domain: Any body of work that isn’t covered by copyright law is public domain. The public has the right to use this work anyway they wish without permission.

Publication/Publish: Publishing is the means of distributing bodies of work to the public.

Right Of Publicity: This law gives a public entity (such as a famous person) the right to decide how their image or reputation is portrayed to the public.

Royalty: A royalty is the amount paid to the copyright holder in exchange for permission to use their work.

Service Mark: Anything that identifies a person or company to stick out in the mind of the public. An example would be a catch-phrase.

Statutory Damages: This is the monetary amount that a copyright holder can ask for. The monetary amount is set by law.

Synchronization License: This is similar to a Master Use License, in that a sound recording is used in a visual work.

Tangible Form Of Expression: A tangible form of expression is any work of creation, such as a book, a story, painting, etc.

Title: A title is like a name for a work of art. A title can identify also what the work of art is about.

Trademark: A trade mark can be a symbol, graphic, or title that identifies a product, and sets it apart from other products.

B. How To Register a Copyright

1. This is a website that gives information for a variety of legal topics. 

2. This link assists people with filing for a copyright online. 

3. This gives simple information about how to register your copyright.

4. University of California: This answers questions for students on how to file for a copyright, and gives various copyright definitions. 

5. This is a link for a whole book you can buy on the topic of registering your copyright.

6. This is a very reputable online site that sells simple legal services and forms that can be performed without the help of a lawyer.

7. This link gives information on how to obtain a copyright on musical compositions.

8. The Picture Archive Council of America: This link gives information on how to register a copyright for photographs.

9. American Society of Journalist and Authors: This gives information on copyrighting for authors and journalist.

10. This gives information about how to copyright intellectual property published on a website.

C. Copyright FAQs

1. US Copyright Office: FAQ Page from the U.S. government.

2. Stanford University Library: Stanford’s FAQ page for copyrights and fair use.

3. Brad Templeton: Mr. Templeton is a former publisher for Clarinet Communications Corp. Here is his article about copyright myths, especially focusing on online content.

4. Indiana University: Here is this university’s FAQ page regarding copyrights.

5. This is a student friendly link regarding fair use law.

6. Medical Library Association: This is an FAQ page for medical professionals.

7. Brown University: This is Brown’s link for Fair Use.

8. Wellesley College Library: This FAQ site gives special attention to music, and MP3 downloads.

9. Music Publisher’s Association: FAQs for music publishers wanting copyright information.

 10. ASCAP: FAQs for The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. This link   specifically talks about obtaining music for films.

D. Copyright, Patent, and Trademark Resources

1. Kuesterlaw Technology Law: A resource site for copyright legal issues pertaining to the internet.

2. United States Patent and Trademark Office: The U.S. government’s site for patents and trademarks.

3. BitLaw: This is a resource page for technology law.

4. This is a link for a book on intellectual property, patents, trademarks, and copyrights.

5. This is an official business link to the U.S. government. The site discusses patents, trademarks, and intellectual property.

6. Intellectual Property Guide: This is a PDF online guide regarding the title.

7. Copyright Resource Project: This is a link to a Berkeley University page regarding the title topic.

8. University of Oregon: This is a site that discusses copyright issues that protect works of art in  museums.

9. Martindale’s: This is an online reference guide to patents, trademarks, and copyrights.



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