What is a copyright?

Texas citizens concerned with intellectual property rights may choose to refresh their memory of the legal details of copyright. The copyright is the right to control copies and reproduction of an intellectual piece of work. It is most often used to protect a piece of art or similar creative product.

Copyright law is meant to prevent the misappropriation of the ownership of intellectual property. Artworks, pieces of music, plays, scripts, pieces of writing and several other types of intellectual products can all be copyrighted. This gives the creator or the owner the right to control reproductions of their work, distribution of copies and public performances of their creative efforts. The right to sell, lease or rent the work is limited to the holder of the copyright and their authorized representatives. It is also considered a violation of copyright to play a sound recording publicly through a digital audio transmission without the permission of the copyright holder. There are also rules governing the right of visual artists to have their work properly attributed to them.

There are certain well-known limitations to copyright law. The first is known as fair use, an important doctrine protected by the 1976 Copyright Act. The utilization of copyrighted material in a fair use capacity is specifically exempted from liability. There is also the rule of compulsory license, under which certain uses of a copyrighted work must be allowed, so long as the specific conditions of the law are complied with and the compensation described is provided.

Individuals who have been accused of copyright infringement or other violations of protection of intellectual property may face criminal charges. An attorney may be able act as a guide to fair use, compulsory license, and other details of the complex body of copyright law.

Source: United States Copyright Office, “Copyright Basics“, November 12, 2014

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