Copyright is the right to make a copy.
Copyright law protects original works of authorship that have been fixed in a tangible form of expression. Copyright occurs at the moment the work is fixed in a tangible form of expression. “The fixation need not be directly perceptible as long as it may be communicated with the aid of a machine or device.”
(U.S. Copyright Office. Copyright Basics, p. 3 http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf)
Let’s unpack that:
The law protects the right to make a copy of original works of authorship including:
musical works, including any accompanying words
dramatic works, including any accompanying music
pantomimes and choreographic works
pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
motion pictures and other audiovisual works
(U.S. Copyright Office. Copyright Basics, p. 3 http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf
which have been fixed in a tangible form of expression.
Fixed = secured, stable, stationary
Tangible = perceptible, palpable
Expression = manifestation
Putting those pieces together–
What is a tangible form of expression?
Certainly paper is tangible, but electronic is also tangible.
Be it analog or digital, paper or online, audio or video… it can qualify for copyright protection.
A copy in the 21st century is more than just a “photocopy of a printed work;” video, audio, Internet content can also be “copied.”
The protection takes effect the moment it is fixed.
No registration is required; even a copyright notice © is not required. If it’s an original work of authorship fixed in a tangible form of expression, it’s copyrighted. It doesn’t matter if it’s a scribbled note found on the floor or a drawing on a paper napkin
(I know; this goes against everything we’ve been taught, but stick with me…)
Who has that right to make a copy?
The owner of the copyright.
And that owner could be YOU.
TIP: Assume that any work is copyright-protected UNTIL you can determine otherwise.
That’s … Copyright for the Rest of Us.
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Copyright © 2015 Barbara C. Ingrassia All Rights Reserved.
Barbara Ingrassia is a Certified Copyright Manager and Founder of Manage Copyright.
A Speaker and Educator, she guides businesses of all sizes through the “gray murky maze” that is copyright in the Digital Age. Her motto: Manage Copyright. Don’t Let It Manage You. ℠
Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Information provided in this blog should not be construed as legal advice.
For legal advice, consultant an attorney with expertise in copyright law.