What is a Copyright?
A copyright is a form of protection for intellectual property that grants certain privileges to a copyright holder. As the name implies, the copyright grants the right to produce to copies of a creative work. Under United States Copyright Law, a copyright holder is granted certain exclusive rights to their creation including:
- The right to reproduce the work
- The right to create derivative works based upon the original
- The right to distribute copies of the work by sale, rental, lease, or lending
- The right to perform or display an audio or visual work publicly
What is Fair Use?
The exclusive rights of a copyright holder are tempered by a Doctrine of Fair Use which defines four guiding principles for determining if a use of a copyrighted material is fair:
- The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
- The nature of the copyrighted work
- The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
- The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work
What is Copyright Infringement?
Copyright Infringement occurs when a copyright holder's exclusive rights are violated by another in excess of fair use. For example, it is a violation of copyright to take a musical work for which you are not the copyright holder and produce a second copy for someone else to use.
Copyright Infringement has become a major concern in the United States since the distribution of digital copies of music and video became common via peer-to-peer applications from which the copyright holders do not receive revenue.