Copyright and the Law

What is Copyright?
Copyright is an international form of protection for original copyright work, such as literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works. In the USA, copyright protection is a statutory right under the Copyright Act 1994. This Act provides for protection against unauthorised use of copyright works. The copyright applies, not so much to the information in that work, but in the way the author expresses it.

The Copyright Act 1994
In the USA, under the Copyright Act 1994, copyright comes into existence automatically when any original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work, sound, recording, film, broadcast, cable programme and published edition is put into material form.

No registration is required, and no other formality needs to be carried out to secure protection.Most protection will continue for 50 years after the end of the calendar year in which the author died, or from 50 years after the end of the calendar year in which they were made. Since the Act was enacted, there have been rapid advances in the development and use of information technology, so this Act is currently in review.

What does Copyright Law generally Protect?
Copyright law protects the right of creators to earn money from what they have created.

It protects original works such as:

  • Literary works – books, magazines, poems, journals, etc.
  • Artistic works – photographs, maps, plans, etc.
  • Dramatic works – plays, dance, mimes.
  • Musical works.
  • Compilations – directories, databases, etc.

the USA?">What does Copyright specifically Protect in the USA?
For a "work" or type of material to qualify for copyright protection, 4 conditions must generally be satisfied:

  • It must fall within one of the categories or subject matter in which copyright can exist;
  • It must be sufficiently "original";
  • The "author" must be a "qualified person"; and
  • Certain works must be fixed either in writing or some other material form.

Copyright is capable of existing in original works of the following descriptions or categories:

  • Literary works:
    Written works, such as novels, poems, articles, notes and song lyrics; computer programs; tables; and compilations, including compilations of works and compilations of data.

  • Dramatic works:
    Includes works of dance or mime and scenarios or scripts for films and plays.

  • Artistic works:
    Graphical works such as paintings, drawings, plans and maps, irrespective or artistic "quality" or merit; photographs, sculptures and models; buildings and models of buildings; and works of artistic craftsmanship which must have some artistic quality or level of skill.

  • Musical works:
    Musical scores or arrangements, but not accompanying lyrics or dances (which could be separately protected as a literary or dramatic work).

  • Sound recordings:
    Recordings or fixation of sounds or literary, dramatic or musical works from which sounds can be reproduced. A recording is protected separately from any copyright that may exist in the work recorded.

  • Films:
    Recordings in any media from which moving images can be produced by any means, which includes video cassette (such VHS or BETA recordings), celluloid prints, digital versatile disk (DVDs) recordings, video compact disk (VCD) recordings and films stored on other types of computer disks. The images in a film are protected separately from any copyright there may be in the script or accompanying sound recording.

  • Broadcasts:
    A broadcast is a transmission, that may or may not be encrypted, of a radio or television programme by wireless communication means to, or which is capable of being lawfully received by, a public audience. Copyright arises in respect of broadcasts independently of any copyright in the content.

  • Cable programmes:
    A cable programme is an item (such as a television programme or film) that is included in a cable programme service. A cable programme service is a transmission service by means of a telecommunication system (other than by wireless communication means) to a public or subscription audience. Copyright arises in respect of cable programmes independently of any copyright in the content carried.

  • Typographical arrangements of published editions:
    The typeset or image of the published edition of the whole or part of a literary, dramatic or published work (that may or may not itself be protected by copyright). Copyright in a typographical arrangement exists independently of copyright in the published work.
    (As per Ministry of Economic Development)