What is copyright?

What Is COPYRIGHT?Did you know that whenever you write a poem or story or even a paper for your class, or a drawing or other artwork, you automatically own the copyright to it. Copyright is a form of protection given to the authors or creators of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic and other intellectual works. What that means is that, as the author of the work, you alone have the right to do any of the following or to let others do any of the following:

- make copies of your work;- distribute copies of your work;- perform your work publicly (such as for plays, film, dances or music);- display your work publicly (such as for artwork, or stills from audiovisual works, or any material used on the Internet or television); and- make “derivative works” (including making modifications, adaptations or other new uses of a work, or translating the work to another media).In general, it is illegal for anyone to do any of the things listed above with a work created by you without your permission, but there are some exceptions and limitations to your rights. One major limitation is the doctrine of “Fair Use.” Copyright law in the United States is embodied in federal laws enacted by Congress. The current copyright law, the Copyright Act of 1976 (as amended), is codified in Title 17 of the U.S. Code.
FAIR USE: "Fair use" is the right of the public to make reasonable use of copyrighted material in special circumstances without the Copyright Owner's Permission. The United States Copyright Act recognizes that fair use of a copyrighted work may be used "for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research." Factors to be considered include (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is for a commercial purpose or is for non-profit educational purposes; (2) what kind of work is the copyrighted work (for instance, is it creative or factual); (3) the amount and importance of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and (4) the effect of the use upon the potential commercial market for or value of the copyrighted work. Whether or not a fair use has been made of a copyrighted work is not always easy to determine and there have been many lawsuits to determine whether or not a use is "fair." Where there is doubt about whether something qualifies for the fair use exception, you should request a License from theCopyright Holder.
Below are some examples of cases involving the defense of fair use:
1. The court held that a book of trivia questions about the "Seinfeld" TV program was not fair use. Although the book was transformative, the TV program was a work of fiction accorded special status under copyright law. The book drew upon essential elements of the TV program, and occupied a market for a derivative work that the Copyright Holder was entitled to control. Castle Rock Entertainment v. Carol Pub. Group, Inc., 955 F. Supp. 260 (S.D.N.Y. 1997), aff'd, 150 F.3d 132 (2d Cir. 1998).
2. The court held that the use in a TV biography about Muhammed Ali of up to 14 film clips of historical footage, each between 41 seconds and two minutes long, was likely to be fair use. Ali was a public figure and his TV biography was the subject of public interest. The allegedly Infringing film clips were not the focus of documentary and were not particularly noticeable, and use of the film clips was not likely to the undercut market for a motion picture. Monster Communications, Inc. v. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., 935 F. Supp. 490 (S.D.N.Y. 1996).
3. The court held that a parody of the song "I Love New York" performed in a skit on "Saturday Night Live" poking fun at New York City's public relations campaign and its theme song was a protected fair use. Elsmere Music, Inc. v. NBC, 623 F.2d 252 (2d Cir. 1980).
4. The court held that that use of copyrighted music played during a parade that happened to be televised by ABC was a fair use. Italian Book Corp. v. ABC, Inc., 458 F. Supp. 65 (S.D.N.Y 1978).
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PUBLIC DOMAIN: Works that are in the public domain belong to everyone and can be freely used without compensating the authors. There are many reasons why a work may be in the public domain. For example, works consisting entirely of information that is commonly available and that contain no original authorship are in the public domain. Works that previously were entitled to copyright protection enter the public domain when the Term of the copyright has expired. Under the 1909 Copyright Act, if a work was published without a Copyright Notice, protection was lost and the work entered the public domain when it was first Published.

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