Copyright is actually a bundle of rights. These rights include rights reserved to the owner as follows:
Because these rights are imagined as a bundle, the owner of the copyright can give away, sell, or otherwise license some or all of these rights to others (e.g., when an author negotiates a contract, s/he may give the publisher the right to copy and distribute the work but not to make future derivative works, for instance).
Copyright only applies to the following kinds of works:
This list encompasses most kinds of creative or intellectual expression. Works must also be "fixed in a tangible medium of expression" in order to be subject to copyright protection. Unfixed works like improvised music, speeches, or dances are not protected by copyright.
Remember: copyright is not designed to reward hard work but, rather, to foster creativity. Works that took a lot of effort to put together but that don't contain original expression do not qualify for copyright protection.
Legal Disclaimer: The information provided in this guide is for general reference purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice of any kind. If you require advice in relation to any specific copyright issues, you should consult an appropriate legal professional about your particular situation.
This page was created using material from Portland Community College Library's page, Copyright Resources, and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
All College employees and students are required to comply with the Federal Copyright Act of 1976, as amended, 17 U.S.C. 101 et seq., in all activities related to instruction, research and study at the College. The College will maintain procedures and guidelines to assist employees and students with the understanding the parameters of such compliance. Any employee or student who violates the Copyright Act is solely liable for such action.
Summary of Civil and Criminal Penalties for Violation of Federal Copyright Laws
Copyright infringement is the act of exercising, without permission or legal authority, one or more of the exclusive rights granted to the copyright owner under Section 106 of the Copyright Act (Title 17 of the United States Code). These rights include the right to reproduce or distribute a copyrighted work. In the file-sharing context, downloading or uploading substantial parts of a copyrighted work without authority constitutes an infringement.
Penalties for copyright infringement include civil and criminal penalties. In general, anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or statutory damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed. For willful infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can, in its discretion, also assess costs and attorneys' fees. For details, see Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504 and 505.
Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense. For more information, please see the website of the U.S. Copyright Office at https://copyright.gov.
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