What are Copyrights?
Copyrights are sets of exclusive rights, attached to creative works that formally protect the original author, musician or artist from unfair duplication or distribution. Copyrights are formally granted to the author or creator of an original work by a government agency, such as the United States Copyright Office or the United States Library of Congress.
That being said, when an individual tangibly creates a work of art that art form becomes their property — it has an inherent copyright protection. To formalize these rights and to have them affirmed by a governing body, the individual must register for copyrights. Assuming the works aren’t already registered within a government database, the copyrights will last for a specified period of time (typically 70 years following the creator’s death) and will act as the primary evidence and mechanism to initiate a legal case if infringement or piracy takes place.
What do Copyrights protect?
The rights granted by copyrights include protections regarding any attempts at copying, distributing or adapting the original work. In the majority of jurisdictions in the United States issues involving copyrights arise upon fixation and do not need to be formally registered to be upheld. Those in possession of copyrights have the exclusive statutory right to exercise control over copying and other exploitation of the works for a limited time, after which the work is said to enter the public domain.
Uses covered under limitation and exceptions to copyright, such as the fair use of the works, does not require explicit permission from the copyright owner. All other uses; however, will require permission. Copyright owners may license or permanently transfer their exclusive rights to others. As a result of this definition, it can be accurately assumed that a copyright free image is a picture or photograph that is not exclusively owned by anyone—the image is a part of public domain and therefore may be distributed, sold, altered or replicated.
What works can be copyrighted?
According to copyright laws in the United States, the following works may be copyrighted:
Maps and Charts
Literary works and books
Dramatic works and choreography
Computer Software and Programs
Audio Visual Works
Paintings, Sculptures, Drawings and Photographs
How long do Copyrights last?
Copyright laws will typically impose a specified limitation in regards to copyright protection limits in regards to time. Though these periods of time will vary based on location, copyright laws must be adhered to in almost all jurisdictions.
In the United States, all works created after January 1, 1978 has an protection period for the life of the creator plus an additional 70 years following his or her death. During this time, based on copyright laws, the individual may resell copies of the works for profit or may do as he or she pleases with the works.