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- Copyright Basics - 1/7 -


Copyright Basics (Circular 1)

U.S. Copyright Office - Library of Congress

Copyright Basics September 2000

------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright Basics ------------------------------------------------------------------------

(See Format Note at end of document.)

Table of Contents

+ What Is Copyright? + Who Can Claim Copyright + Copyright and National Origin of the Work + What Works Are Protected? + What Is Not Protected by Copyright? + How to Secure Copyright + Publication + Notice of Copyright + Form of Notice for Visually Perceptible Copies + Form of Notice for Phonorecords of Sound Recordings + Position of Notice + Publications Incorporating U.S. Government Works + Unpublished Works + Omission of Notice and Errors in Notice + How Long Copyright Protection Endures + Transfer of Copyright + Termination of Transfers + International Copyright Protection + Copyright Registration + Registration Procedures + Original Registration + Special Deposit Requirements + Unpublished Collections + Effective Date of Registration + Corrections and Amplifications of Existing Registrations + Mandatory Deposit for Works Published in the United States + Use of Mandatory Deposit to Satisfy Registration Requirements + Who May File an Application Form? + Application Forms + Fill-in Forms + Fees + Search of Copyright Office Records + For Further Information

------------------------------------------------------------------------

WHAT IS COPYRIGHT?

Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U.S. Code) to the authors of "original works of authorship", including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do the following:

+ *To reproduce* the work in copies or phonorecords;

+ To prepare *derivative works* based upon the work;

+ *To distribute copies or phonorecords* of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;

+ To perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works;

+ *To display the copyrighted work publicly*, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work; and

+ In the case of *sound recordings, to perform the work publicly* by means of a *digital audio transmission*.

In addition, certain authors of works of visual art have the rights of attribution and integrity as described in Title 17, Chap 1, Section 106a (Circular 92) of the 1976 Copyright Act. For further information, request "Copyright Registration for Works of the Visual Arts" [http://www.loc.gov/copyright/circs/circ40.pdf].

It is illegal for anyone to violate any of the rights provided by the copyright law to the owner of copyright. These rights, however, are not unlimited in scope. Title 17, Chap 1 of the 1976 Copyright Act establish limitations on these rights. In some cases, these limitations are specified exemptions from copyright liability. One major limitation is the doctrine of "fair use", which is given a statutory basis in Title 17, Chap1, Section 107 of the 1976 Copyright Act. In other instances, the limitation takes the form of a "compulsory license" under which certain limited uses of copyrighted works are permitted upon payment of specified royalties and compliance with statutory conditions. For further information about the limitations of any of these rights, consult the copyright law or write to the Copyright Office.

------------------------------------------------------------------------ WHO CAN CLAIM COPYRIGHT

Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created in fixed form. The copyright in the work of authorship *immediately* becomes the property of the author who created the work. Only the author or those deriving their rights through the author can rightfully claim copyright.

In the case of works made for hire, the employer and not the employee is considered to be the author. Title 17, Chap 1, Sec. 101 of the copyright law defines a "work made for hire" as:

+ (1) a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment; or

+ (2) a work specially ordered or commissioned for use as: + a contribution to a collective work + a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work + a translation + a supplementary work + a compilation + an instructional text + a test + answer material for a test + a sound recording + an atlas

if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire....

The authors of a joint work are co-owners of the copyright in the work, unless there is an agreement to the contrary.

Copyright in each separate contribution to a periodical or other collective work is distinct from copyright in the collective work as a whole and vests initially with the author of the contribution.

Two General Principles

+ Mere ownership of a book, manuscript, painting, or any other copy or phonorecord does not give the possessor the copyright. The law provides that transfer of ownership of any material object that embodies a protected work does not of itself convey any rights in the copyright.

+ Minors may claim copyright, but state laws may regulate the business dealings involving copyrights owned by minors. For information on relevant state laws, consult an attorney.

------------------------------------------------------------------------ COPYRIGHT AND NATIONAL ORIGIN OF THE WORK

Copyright protection is available for all unpublished works, regardless of the nationality or domicile of the author. Published works are eligible for copyright protection in the United States if *any* one of the following conditions is met:

+ On the date of first publication, one or more of the authors is a national or domiciliary of the United States, or is a national, domiciliary, or sovereign authority of a treaty party,* or is a stateless person wherever that person may be domiciled; or *A treaty party is a country or intergovernmental organization other than the United States that is a party to an international agreement.

+ The work is first published in the United States or in a foreign nation that, on the date of first publication, is a treaty party. For purposes of this condition, a work that is published in the United States or a treaty party within 30 days after publication in a foreign nation that is not a treaty party shall be considered to be first published in the United States or such treaty party, as the case may be; or

+ The work is a sound recording that was first fixed in a treaty party; or

+ The work is a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work that is incorporated in a building or other structure, or an architectural work that is embodied in a building and the building or structure is located in the United States or a treaty party; or

+ The work is first published by the United Nations or any of its specialized agencies, or by the Organization of American States; or

+ The work is a foreign work that was in the public domain in the United States prior to 1996 and its copyright was restored under the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA). Request "Highlights of Copyright Amendments Contained in the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA-GATT), [http://www.loc.gov/copyright/circs/circ38b.pdf], for further information.

+ The work comes within the scope of a Presidential proclamation.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

WHAT WORKS ARE PROTECTED?

Copyright protects "original works of authorship" that are fixed in a tangible form of expression. The fixation need not be directly perceptible so long as it may be communicated with the aid of a machine


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