Copyright is a special type of legitimate right of ownership for intellectual property. The very etymology of the word “copyright” reflects its meaning — an owner has an exclusive right to copy the product. A copyright usually belongs to the authors of the product or anyone who they granted legal permission. It provides its owner with the possibility to use the product of intellectual labor for gaining profit, for example, duplicate and sell it or use fragments from it in their own work, or exploit it in any other way for a stated period of time. Copyright protection is not endless and after its expiration the intellectual property goes into the field of public domain.
Copyright main principles
The process of creating something that requires imagination or excessive intellectual effort often results in a product that falls under the description of intellectual property, being something original that was created by human mind. Intellectual property, if not secured by law from unauthorized copying, is an easy thing to be misappropriated, that’s why the issue of copyrighting has appeared a long time ago with development of cultural sphere in general, especially after the invention of the printing press.
It’s considered that a copyright is applied to the creative work automatically from the moment it was created. In most countries, the registration of a copyright is not necessary for a copyright to be legit and valid. At the same time, if the copyright registration is stated in the country’s laws, copyright stands as a proof and provides its holder with the possibility to claim fees.
An owner of the copyright might be an author of the creative work, or a group of authors (then the copyright suggests shared ownership called joint authorship) or a company, if the author is an employee who provides his intellectual work for this company.
The duration of copyright protection also varies, but, typically, it lasts while the initial author is alive plus 50, 70 or 100 years after his or her death.
What can be copyrighted
Types of intellectual property that might be copyrighted include original authorized creative products of literature, music and other forms of art, educational products, designs of different types, software and some other kinds. All these types of creative products are called OWA, which stands for Original Work of Authorship. In many countries, there is a restriction that a creative entity must be tangible (recorded in any form) to be protected by a copyright, and the forms of intellectual property that can be copyrighted differ depending on country.
An important issue is that copyright protection forbids an unauthorized use not of the idea, but of its particular expression in the given product of intellectual labor. For example, Shrek is protected by a copyright, but this copyright protection applies only to that particular image, and it doesn’t forbid anyone to use another type of green giants in their creative works.
What can’t be copyrighted
Several types of intellectual property cannot be subjected to a copyright due to restrictions which are specific to each country. For example, in some countries, single words or short phrases (including logos and titles, slogans, domain names) can’t be copyrighted. Other forms of protection might be applied to those forms of intellectual property instead. For example, trademarks are used to legally protect logos, company symbols and similar entities against unauthorized used. A patent is another form of legal security, which is used for inventions, technical processes and other forms of original creative products that can’t be protected by a copyright.