Throughout international conventions such as the Berne Convention, Copyright laws are standardized, in some countries and are needed by international organizations such as European Union or World Trade Organization from their member states.
Copyright is a set of exclusive rights that control the use of a particular term of an idea or information. At its most common, it is literally "the rights to copy" an original creation. In some cases, these rights are of limited duration. The symbol for copyright is "©", and in other jurisdictions may otherwise be written as either (c) or (C).
Copyright law covers only the form or mode in which ideas or information has been declared, the "form of material expression". It is not designed or intended to cover the actual idea, concepts, facts, styles, or techniques which may be contained in or represented by the copyright work. In some jurisdictions, copyright law offers range for satirical or interpretive works which themselves may be copyrighted. Other laws may obligate legal restrictions on reproduction or use where copyright does not - such as trademarks and patents.
Copyright may exist in an extensive range of creative, intellectual, or artistic forms or "works". These contain poems, theses, plays, and other literary works, movies, choreographic works (dances, ballets, etc.), musical compositions, audio recordings, paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, software, radio and television broadcasts of live and other performances, and, in some jurisdictions, industrial designs. Designs or industrial designs may have divide or overlapping laws applied to them in some jurisdictions. Copyright is one of the laws covered by the umbrella term intellectual property. Copyright law is significant for multimedia developers and publishers for two motives:
- Original multimedia works are protected by copyright. The Copyright Act's exclusive rights condition gives developers and publishers the right to control unauthorized utilization of their works.
- Multimedia works are created by merging "content" - music, text, graphics, illustrations, photographs, software - that is protected under copyright law. Developers and publishers must avoid infringing copyrights owned by others.
Types of Works Protected by Copyright
The "works of authorship" are protected by the Copyright law. These include the following types of works:
- Literary works. Novels, nonfiction prose, poetry, newspapers and newspaper articles, magazine articles and magazines, software documentation and manuals, computer software, training manuals, manuals, catalogs, brochures, ads (text), and compilations such as business directories.
- Musical works: Songs, advertising jingles and instrumentals.
- Dramatic works: Plays, operas, and skits.
- Pantomimes and choreographic works. Ballets, modern dance, jazz dance, and mime works.
- Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works. Photographs, posters, maps, paintings, drawings, graphic art, display ads, cartoon strips and cartoon characters, stuffed animals, statues, paintings, and works of fine art.
- Motion pictures and other audiovisual works. Movies, documentaries, travelogues, training films and videos, television shows, television ads, and interactive multimedia works.
- Sound recordings: Recordings of music, sounds, or words.
- Architectural works. Building designs, whether in the form of architectural plans, drawings, or the constructed building itself.
The Exclusive Rights
In the copyrighted work a copyright owner has five exclusive rights:
- Reproduction Right: Is the right to copy, duplicates, transcribes, or imitates the work in fixed form.
- Modification Right: Also known as the derivative works right, is the right to modify the work to create a new work. A new work that is established on a preexisting work is known as a "derivative work."
- Distribution Right: Is the right to distribute copies of the work to the public by sale, rental, lease, or lending.
- Public Performance Right: Is the right to recite, plays, dance, act, or show the work at public place or to communicate it to the public. In the case of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, showing the work's images in sequence is considered "performance."
- Public Display Right: Is the right to show a copy of the work directly or by resources of a film, slide, or television image at a public place or to transmit it to the public. In the case of a movement picture or other audiovisual work, showing the work's images out of succession is considered "display."
Some exclusive rights normally connect to the proprietor of a copyright:
The expression "exclusive right" signifies that only the copyright owner is free to exercise the attendant rights, and others are forbidden using the work without the permission of the copyright owner. Copyright is frequently called a "negative right", as it serves to prohibit people (e.g. readers, viewers, or listeners, and primarily publishers and would be publishers) from doing something, rather than allowing people (e.g. authors) to do something. In this way it is similar to the unregistered design right in English law and European law. The rights of the copyright owner also allow him/her to not use or exploit their copyright for its duration. This means an author can decide to exploit their copyright for some of the duration and then not for the rest, vice versa, or completely one or the other.
- to make copies or reproductions of the work and to sell those copies (including, typically, electronic copies)
- to import or export the work
- to create derivative works (works that adjust the original work)
- to perform or display the work publicly
- to sell or allocate these rights to others
- to transmit or display by means of digital audio transmission (XM Satellite Radio, Sirius)
There is however a critique which repels this affirmation as being established on a philosophical interpretation of copyright law, and is not universally shared. There is also discussing on whether copyright should be considered a property right or a moral right. Many argue that copyright does not exist merely to limit third parties from publishing ideas and information, and that defining copyright purely as a negative right is incompatible with the public strategy objective of encouraging authors to create new works and enrich the public domain.