copyright law



Also known as intellectual property, copyright refers to creative intangible properties.

It is also the propriety right of control over one's literary or artistic creations.

Copyright is protected under the Constitution.

The first copyright law dates back to 1790.



Words of original authorship existing in a tangible form of expression.

In to meet the criteria of copyright the work must meet the following:

Expression: The author must express an idea and not a fact. For example, breaking news is a fact, not an artistic creation. A poem or song is a creation.

Originality: The author must have created the work or its derivative.

Tangible: The work has to be fixed in a tangible medium such as:




Disc, etc.


Issues in Copyright

Work made for hire: Occurs when work is created on behalf of someone else. In the absence of       prior arrangements, the author has little claim to the copyright.

Joint authorship: Refers to work created by more than one author.

Government works: All tax payer funded works are public and copyright-free unless otherwise       stated by the law.

Duration: How long one can claim copyright to a work:

      Original works: Lifetime of the author plus 70 years.

      Works made for hire: 95 Years after publication, 120 years from creation, or whichever             comes first.

      Lapse: After the duration period, the work falls into the public domain. Works in the public            domain cannot be re-copywritted.

The fair Use Doctrine: It gives people some privilege to use copyrighted work within limited       criteria. See relevant case law here.

The parody defense: People can replicate copywrited work as a form of parody. See relevant       case law here.


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