It is important to know that we are all also copyright users. When we read books, watch movies, listen to music, or use videogames or software, we are using copyright-protected works.
You can also use works that are in the public domain. Works in the public domain are those that are never protected by copyright (like facts or discoveries) or works whose term of protection has ended either because it expired or the owner did not satisfy a previously required formality. Currently, all pre-1926 U.S. works are in the public domain because copyright protection has expired for those works.
Copyright exists automatically in an original work of authorship once it is fixed, but a copyright owner can take steps to enhance the protections. The most important step is registering the work. Registering a work is not mandatory, but for U.S. works, registration (or refusal) is necessary to enforce the exclusive rights of copyright through litigation. Timely registration also allows copyright owners to seek certain types of monetary damages and attorney fees if there is a lawsuit, and also provide a presumption that information on the registration certificate is correct.
The Copyright Office website, copyright.gov, is the definitive source of copyright information. If you need additional assistance, the Public Information Office is available to help. You can contact us online, call at (202) 707-3000 or 1-877-476-0778 (toll free), or visit the Office in Washington, DC, in the Library of Congress Madison Building. Staff is available Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., except federal holidays. Want to learn more about the Copyright Office and what we do? Visit our overview page, where you can discover how we have been helping the public since 1870.
No, we neither compile nor maintain such a list. A search of our records, however, may reveal whether a particular work is no longer under copyright protection. We will conduct a search of our records by the title of a work, an author's name, or a claimant's name. Upon request, our staff will search our records see Circular 4 Copyright Office Fees, for this and other records and services. You may also search the records in person without paying a fee.
All U.S. copyright law flows from Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution. This provision grants Congress the power "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." The writers of the Constitution wanted to encourage and reward authors, inventors, and other innovators for their creative work that would eventually become freely available to everyone.
Since 1790, U.S. laws have added copyright protection to such things as plays, works of art, photographs, sheet music, recorded music, movies, TV shows, software programs, and video games. In 1909, the use of copyright-protected intellectual property without payment or permission became a crime, a form of theft.
U.S. law, however, recognizes the "fair use" of copyrighted works by the public. This is an ill-defined and controversial area of the law, mainly developed in court decisions. Fair use generally allows the free copying and use of at least some portion of copyrighted works for criticism and comment, news reporting, scholarship, and teaching.
Digital piracy first harms the original copyright holders: the songwriters, music artists, moviemakers, game developers, software innovators, and other creators of new digital media products. They lose money to those who sell pirated copies cheaply. The theft of their work also discourages them from doing further creative work, defeating the fundamental purpose of the Constitution's copyright provision.
In October 2007, the Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI), a non-profit public policy organization, released its first report on the overall effect of digital copyright violation on the U.S. economy. Using industry and government sources, the report made a conservative estimate of the economic harm caused by pirated sound recordings, movies, video games, and software.
Big media companies with huge investments in music, movies, television, and software turned to the federal government in the late 1990s to strengthen copyright laws. The No Electronic Theft Act of 1997 makes it illegal to distribute unlawful copies of music CDs, films, DVDs and other copyrighted digital media even if no financial gain is involved.
Since 1790, the limited time the law allowed for copyright protection gradually increased from the original maximum of 28 years. If an individual author owns the copyright, it lasts for the author's lifetime plus 70 years following the author's death.
1. Keep going after the online pirates and the file-sharing networks that enable them. Suing end users of peer-to-peer file-sharing networks is the current strategy of the big media companies. They manage to sue only a small fraction of these downloaders of copyrighted music and other media. But the publicity may make others think twice before taking a chance that they may end up having to pay thousands of dollars for "free" music and movies. Defeating file sharing networks like KaZaA is a challenge since they often operate from foreign countries.
2. Increase efforts to prosecute criminals making and selling bootleg copies of digital media. Congress should fund more U.S. Department of Justice investigation and prosecution units to take down black-market digital counterfeiters. Congress should also increase prison penalties and fines for profiting from digital theft. Prosecuting digital bootleggers abroad is often difficult since many countries do not have the same copyright protections for intellectual property as the United States.
3. Use technology to block illegal access, copying, and distribution of copyrighted digital media. Media companies have attempted to guard their products with various forms of encryption, copy-protection locks, and other technical solutions. MySpace recently agreed to use filters to block unauthorized postings of music and videos. These technical fixes work, but the digital pirates always seem to find ways around them.
4. Educate the public, especially young people, about the ethical and legal use of copyrighted digital media. A new FBI anti-piracy warning about unauthorized copying now appears on packaging for music recordings, movies, software, and video games. Some call for instruction of students on the value of intellectual property and consequences for violating copyright laws. Studies have shown that the attitudes of peers (real and virtual), siblings, parents, and teachers all influence how likely a young person will became a digital pirate.
6. Speed up the time when copyrighted material will become freely available and expand "fair use." The writers of the Constitution never wanted copyrights to last forever. Over the years, however, copyright holders have successfully lobbied Congress to extend the term of exclusive ownership to the author's lifetime plus 70 years. Critics argue that copyrighted material should enter the public domain much more quickly. This would vastly accelerate free access to books, songs, movies, and other intellectual property for the benefit of all. The critics also say that Congress should write rules for non-profit "fair use" of media still under copyright.
2. The U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to set "for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries . . . ." What do you think is a reasonable term for copyright protection of songs, movies, video games, and software? Defend your answer.
Those on the opposite side believe that patents and other forms of protection restrict free trade and economic growth. But IP protection laws are still in place and designed to protect inventors, business owners, and creators.
Copyrights protect original works of authorship, such as literary works, music, dramatic works, pantomimes and choreographic works, sculptural, pictorial, and graphic works, sound recordings, artistic works, architectural works, and computer software. With copyright protection, the holder has the exclusive rights to modify, distribute, perform, create, display, and copy the work.
Yes, it is. If you are copying the files containing your footage, like a wedding or birthday video, you are free to save rip files. However, many commercial contents are protected by copyright laws. Therefore, ripping DVDs for commercial use is strictly illegal.
A provider of interactive computer service shall, at the time of entering an agreement with a customer for the provision of interactive computer service and in a manner deemed appropriate by the provider, notify such customer that parental control protections (such as computer hardware, software, or filtering services) are commercially available that may assist the customer in limiting access to material that is harmful to minors. Such notice shall identify, or provide the customer with access to information identifying, current providers of such protections.
Use this software to protect and duplicate your files on USB flash drives. The TSFD Protection Toolkit offers the most comprehensive, versatile, and secure USB copy protection solution for both software and data files. It can protect more than 300 different file types by default including all video and audio file formats, Microsoft office files, PDF documents, offline web pages and much more. It also includes advanced features for protecting almost anything else including proprietary file formats and applications.
Extend the functionality of your Rimage Maestro system with TrusCont USB copy ptotection and digital signing solutions. Copy protect your files and submit duplication jobs directly to the Maestro production server from any Windows PC on your LAN. The TSFD Protection Toolkit offers the most comprehensive, versatile, and secure USB copy protection solution for both software and data files. It can protect more than 300 different file types by default including all video and audio file formats, Microsoft office files, PDF documents, offline web pages and much more. It also includes advanced features for protecting almost anything else including proprietary file formats and applications. 2b1af7f3a8