What is Copyright?
Copyright protects the rights of the author. It is the legal right to copy, manipulate, perform or communicate a creative work.
Did you know that whenever you write a poem or story or even a paper for your class, or a drawing or other artwork, you automatically own the copyright to it.
Copyright is a form of protection given to the authors or creators of "original works of authorship," including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic and other intellectual works. What that means is that, as the author of the work, you alone have the right to do any of the following or to let others do any of the following:
Make copies of your work;
Distribute copies of your work (such as for plays, film, dances or music);
Display your work publicly (such as for artwork, or stills from audiovisual works, or any material used on the Internet or television); and
Make “derivative works” (including making modifications, adaptations or other new uses of a work, or translating the work to another media).
In general, it is illegal for anyone to do any of the things listed above with a work created by you without your permission, but there are some exceptions and limitations to your rights as a copyright holder. One major limitation is the doctrine of “Fair Use”.
To obtain permission to use a work protected by copyright, you must determine who is the copyright owner of the material you intend to use, contact the owner, and request the right to use the work in the territory and format you intend, and -- in some cases -- pay the owner a fee.
Often the most difficult part of this process is finding the owner to ask permission to use the work.