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US copyright law
U.S. Copyright Law Covers Artistic Expression and Creative and Intellectual Works
The US Copyright Law grants rights to individuals for the works they create. The US Copyright Act of 1790 has changed over the years. The current basis of US copyright law is based on the Copyright Act of 1976. US copyright law is relatively automatic. Once someone has an idea and produces it in tangible form, the creator is the copyright holder and has the authority to enforce his exclusivity to it. In other words, the person is the owner of the creation. It is not necessary that a person register their work. However, it is recommended and it can serve as evidence if someone ever violates a copyright. It is interesting to note that when an employer hires an employee to produce a work that the copyright is given to the employer.
Violations of US Copyright Law are generally enforced in a civil court setting. However, there could also be criminal sanctions brought against someone who violates US copyright law. Someone that is in serious violation of US Copyright Law such as counterfeiting can find themselves on the inside of prison looking out. People need to understand that the copyright symbol is not a requirement. Someone may have a copyright, yet their work may not have a copyright notice or symbol.
US Copyright Law covers a wide range of things that are derived from artistic expression, intellectual or creative work. This includes things such as literary works, music, drawings, photographs, software, movies, choreographic works such as ballets and plays, poems, paintings and more. The law covers the form of expression, not the concept, facts or the actual idea of the work. This means that someone can use another person?s idea or concept and produce their own take on it. However, copying another person?s work is a violation. It should be noted that some things may not be copyrighted but they may be protected by a patent or trademark.
Individuals who have a copyright on a particular piece of work can do with it what they will. They may choose to copy it and sell it. They may display their work or perform it in public and charge admission, or they can assign or sell the work to someone else. Individuals who have a copyright can also choose to do nothing with their work, if that is their desire. However, if someone comes along and takes the work and tries to use it in some way, that person is still in violation of the owner?s copyright. Copyrights cover published and unpublished work.
Anyone who is in the creative arts arena should be very careful that they do not violate US Copyright Law. For that matter, anyone who is a fan of the creative arts should make sure they are not in violation of a copyright. Simple things like uploading, downloading and sharing music or movie files can result in serious charges and fines being brought against them. With the popularity of the Internet and file sharing software there many copyrights are currently being violated. Copyright owners are starting to take a stand against them and are hunting down the perpetrators. Be careful that you are not overstepping your boundaries and violating someone?s copyright law.
How to copyright software How to Copyright Software Sanely If you're wondering how to copyright software the good news is you've probably already done it. At least you have if you have ever written software. Most people however get confused over exactly what having a copyright for their software means and this is the trickier question to answer. First of all, thinking it isn't going to do it and you can't really copyright the things you think. Second, only those things that can be seen (when it comes to software) can be copyrighted. If you want to protect the abstract, look into patents. Otherwise if it is original, fixed, and tangible you can copyright it. Essentially you already know how to copyright software if you've put it into a finished form. Once you've written the source code the copyright belongs to you. Copyrighting software doesn't offer the protection that many people hope it will. The idea of the software and anything about the finished product that wasn't available in a tangible (visible) form isn't protected by the copyright. In fact the only thing that is undeniably protected by copyright when it comes to software is the source code. The question you should be asking is now how to copyright software, it is how to patent your software and that requires a much more involved and prolonged explanation. To obtain a patent for your software you must apply for a patent in each country that offers patents for software and in which you wish to have the protection a patent can offer. I warned you this was much trickier than how to copyright software. Then it gets trickier still. There is no universal legal definition of what a software patent is so each country that offers patents also has a different definition for what is protected by that patent as well as for why a patent will be granted. If you want to add to the confusion a little more while wondering how to copyright software, also consider the fact that your software may be given a patent in one of the countries where you applied and none of the others. Of course, if this is not enough fun for you, you can try to deal with the red tape involved in dealing with multiple governments in order to resolve any issues or disputes that may have arisen from the result of the software patents you hold. If you've forgotten the original question it was: how to copyright software? I told you that one was much easier. The main thing you need to do if you're going for international patents (which can secure a profitable future for you and your business) is to get a really good patent lawyer and have him walk you through and hold your hand for the entire process. In fact, I would say that's probably the best advice you can get. Patents are complicated and when you're not exactly sure of what you're doing, whom you need to talk to, and what the next step is you stand to waste a lot of time while taking a bigger risk. It is much easier to deal with how to copyright software on your own than it is to work out the complicated world of software patents. If this is your first time designing your own software you have every right to be nervous and excited and scared to death at the same time. Remember lawyers went to school much longer than you in order to know what to do in this situation so you should not be expected to know how to copyright software when you've never done it before.
Copyright Infringement Statistics Copyright infringement statistics, by most standards are inflated. Most recent copyright infringement statistics cite that almost 30 percent of software is pirated in the United States of America. This means that they think 30 percent of the software on your computer is illegal? they think we?re all thieves, to an extent. However, copyright holders have good reason to worry that we?re violating their rules: the number of suspects referred to the United States attorneys with an Intellectual Property lead charge increased twenty six percent in the period between 2002 and 2004 ? and there have been studies that show that this is rising. Copyright infringement statistics are difficult to come by, but it?s plain to see it?s affecting every aspect of intellectual copy. Copyright infringement statistics show that in addition to software privacy, there are a lot of violations in the music world. Copyright infringement statistics show that many unsuspecting people, from college students to thirty-something a professional, download music on a consistent basis, and often it?s not downloaded legally. Often times, someone will download a song off a MySpace or YouTube page, without giving thought to who really owns the copyright and if it?s legal for them to have it. Copyright infringement statistics, brought to us by the music recording industry, would have us believe that online infringement is seriously hurting the recording industry. A sensible person, however, would realize that with the abundance of MP3 sales sites that this will turn quickly and recording giants will see the huge profits available online. It?s already begun, you see, we have yet to see the impact of online music sales, and how it will increase revenue. I?m sure, with the huge talent pool at their disposal, the media giants will find a way to monetize the internet to their fullest advantage. Copyright infringement statistics also show that many people are downloading games off the internet. With the litany of games available to us ? from complete alternate worlds such as World of Warcraft to the more mainstream ?The Sims? series, people are clamoring for PC games ? and for good reason. They?re fun, intelligent games that play on a system everyone has ? a computer. Because of this, people are always looking for new games to play and download, and they may download a game without knowing that it?s not ?freeware? (as many internet games are). In addition to computer games, copyright infringement statistics also show that movies are downloaded in abundance on the internet. Many peer to peer file distribution sites and programs (such as bit torrent or Kazaa) allow for the transfer of very large files, and they?re easy to find online. Using a tool provided by one of many suppliers, users can search for any item they like ? and, of course, the system is abused and people download copyrighted movies and entire DVDs instead of publicly available works. Copyright infringement also branches into written works, such as articles, books, poems, etc. Many times, a student will copy a paragraph or two without realizing the implications of such copying. While they may think of it as ?borrowing?, if it?s used on a grander scale, the person could be opening themselves up to a large court fight, especially if it?s used commercially. As you can see, copyright infringement statistics show us that many people are using copyrighted works illegally. Do your best diligence when using another?s work ? and ask for permission every time you want to use something that you haven?t created. Chances are, if you just ask the question up front you?ll save yourself from becoming another copyright infringement statistic and save yourself from a major lawsuit.