Copyright Overview

what is a copyright?

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;

- perform your work publicly (such as for plays, film, dances or music);

- display your work publicly


To make a copyright official you can register online for a small fee



History of Copyright

Copyright literally means what it says, the right to copy

· Copyright all started in England when the printing press was made

· When monopolies of printers and books started, Congress knew they had to do something

· It only covered books for a while

· Later copyright law covered topics such as maps, performances, paintings, photographs, sound recordings, motion pictures and computer programs

1790- George Washington passed the First Copyright Act. It was to protect the works of the author’s for up to 28 years.

1831- Musical pieces could be protected

1909 – Technology such as sound recordings, movies, and computer programs have been passed

1990- Architectural pieces can be protected

Since 1998, works can be protected for 70 years after the author’s has died

The U.S. congress has made an impact on other countries with their reform on copyright.


Copyright Infringement

Specific Case

George Harrison, from the Beatles was accused and sued by Bright Tunes Music for plagiarism. His song “My Sweet Lord” had similar musical elements to “He’s So Fine” by The Chiffons. It took five years for the case to be resolved but in the outcome, Harrison was found guilty of copyright infringement.

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