The Facts About Copyright in the US


In the last few years there have been a lot of controversial cases involving the infringement of copyright related to digital rights management. In a nutshell, a lot of people are downloading music, TV shows, and movies illegally, and the copyright holders aren’t very happy about. There are plenty of people that are well aware that they are violating copyright laws when they do this, but some people are genuinely confused by copyright law. That’s why we thought it would be a good idea to clarify things. In this article you’ll find the basics of what you need to know about copyright law in the US.

Copyright Belongs to the Creator

There is a mistaken perception that the inventor of a product or the creator of a book or movie needs to run out and get copyright protection on their work. This is not technically true. The minute a piece of creative work is produced, you own the copyright to that work. The problem is that a lot of unscrupulous individuals may try to take credit for your work as their own. While you are not legally required to obtain a copyright certificate, it’s in your best interest to do so.

If You’re Waiting for the Copyright to Expire, Don’t Hold Your Breath

Have you ever wondered how long the copyright lasts on a creative work? Well, if you’re looking for clues you might have noticed that all of the works that exist in the creative commons sphere on the internet are quite old – many were created in the 1800s. That’s because the copyright on any invention, work of art, literature, or moving picture lasts as long as the creator is alive, and then it’s still protected for another 75 years for the creator’s next of kin that has inherited the copyright. So if you’re waiting for the copyright to expire on your favorite novel, don’t hold your breath!

Fair Use is Permitted

Copyright protection doesn’t mean that no one can talk about a work at all without the author’s permission. Fair use is permitted. This allows people such as journalists to comment on and criticize a work, it permits teachers to discuss it in class, and it allows students to cite it in their essays and other assignments. The only problem is the line between fair use and copyright infringement is not always clear, and this does result in a lot of complicated court cases.