Copyright Law Peculiarities

Nowadays, information is very important as it shows the way to advances, innovations, and achievements in different branches of science and technology. Some books are results of years of tiresome work and efforts; others are the product of scrupulous collaboration. Therefore, authors are constantly trying to protect and control the rights to their work against new technologies, which have made authorship works very accessible, at the same time promoting unauthorized copying and distribution of works. The World Wide Web is studded with variety of resources which can be used to improve the projects. As a rule, these resources come with a license in order to ensure fair use. Understanding of copyright allows us to create and gives the authors opportunity to protect their works.

A copyrightis intellectual property right that allows the author of a work to publish and sell it. Copyright holder has the right to control the work reproduction, to get payment credited for it, to determine who may adapt it or to get financial benefit from it, to grant or sell the rights to other people, and other rights. Copyright law dates back to the early 17th century being considered along with patents and trademarks as an intellectual property right.

In the result of media change, copyright protection is spread over the surface from printing works to computer programs, musical work (with words and music or music only), dramas, song lyrics, works of graphic, sculpture, architecture, pantomimes, motion pictures, advertisements, educational materials, and sound recordings.

Copyright protection exists in three forms: original, which means that the work was created by the author independently and there is minimal creativity degree; authorship works, which include literary works, music, and dramatic works, pantomimes and choreographic works etc.; fixed in a tangible form: a paper, computer disc, magnetic tape, memory chip etc., from which it may be reproduced or perceived. It is protected by the Copyright Act of 1976. Though, it does not protect the underlying ideas, only form or expression.

When a fixed expression form of a work is performed, copyright protection starts. The copyright immediately becomes the author’s property. The author or other people, who derive their right through the author, can claim copyright. Thus, copyright protection is secured automatically when the work is created. It is not necessary to register it in the Copyright Office, although it is recommended. Though, registration of certificate evidences the fact that your work is protected by copyright and you are the owner, and it can be used, if necessary, as ownership evidence in court.

In the past, if the work did not have a copyright notice it was not protected by copyright law. Nevertheless, nowadays, almost all countries follow the Berne copyright convention (formally International Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works) which is an international agreement to govern copyright. Thus, copyright must be automatic and no formal registration should be required according to the Berne Convention. In the USA, for example, almost all works created after April 1, 1989, despite absence of notice, is copyrighted and protected.

The term of copyright protection depends upon creation date. As a rule, copyright lasts for the author’s life and 50 years after his death and expires on December 31 of the 50th year after author’s death. If there is more than one author of the work, it will be the same term after the death of the last author. In case a work was created on or after January 1, 1978, it is protected by copyright until 70 years after the author's death. In cases when works are made to hire them, or works without indicated author, the copyright duration is 95 years after their publication or 120 years from the day of creation.

The U.S. Copyright Act provides a lot of legal remedies that can be used against copyright infringement: injunctions, civil damages, statutory damages, and others. In order to enforce a copyright and to protect your intellectual property you should register your work even if it is not obligatory, and you will get a copyright certificate from the Copyright Office. If you are about to publish the work, you should attach a copyright notice, which will help you to prove any intentional infringement.

In case your work is infringed (unless it falls within the scope of one of the copyright exceptions), send a warning letter to the infringing party identifying your work and stating your copyright, and file a petition to the federal district court about infringement or a copyright infringement lawsuit in the federal district court (Kennedy, 2012).You may also enforce your right trying to resolve the matter before going to court saving time and money. Mediation is a good alternative. Being a form of alternative dispute resolution, it is the only way to resolve a copyright dispute without a court hearing. Mediators help both parties to come to an agreement and work out possible solutions.

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To ensure compliance with the copyright law, you should understand the concept of fair use, which is a uniquely the U.S. concept, as sometimes it can be confusing to apply to particular copyright protected material. Fair use allows the copyright protected work to be used for parody, news reporting, research, commentary etc., and it does not define set page counts or percentage of the work. Fair use includes material reproduction for classroom use, in case the reproduction was spontaneous and unexpected; use of short portions of the work in parody; quotation of passages or excerpts in a review, criticism, technical or scholarly work to illustrate or clarify author's observations; an address or article summary, which may include short passages quotations of the copyrighted work.

Before using any material, you should review it to determine the rightful copyright owner, because very often, articles or any other material is republished from another source without having permission for it. In this case, plagiarism checker may be very helpful. You may also contact the copyright owner in any way: sending an email or writing a letter to request a permission to use the copyrighted material.

The Copyright Act permits to make a backup copy of some types of works. Though, it does not provide permission for libraries to create literary, musical, or audiovisual works backups. Everyone may make a computer program backup copy defined in the statute as instructions which have to be used in a computer to cause a practical result. Then, the Copyright Act was debated. Interlibrary loan, computer programs, and databases were difficult to deal with, thus, the National Commission on New Technological Uses of Copyrighted Works (CONTU) was appointed to solve this issue.

The Copyright Act prohibits the unauthorized copying of works but not the contained ideas. All works automatically get copyright protection, but those which are registered in the Copyright Office have advantages. The Act also established rights, term durations, and renewal terms. Since the time is passed, it has undergone significant changes and was altered by the amendments to the act in 1992 and 1998.

The Copyright Act of 1979, signed on October 19, is the baseline of copyright law spelling out the basic rights for copyright holders, defines those who may be the holders, the works which may be copyrighted, and provides usage rights and copyright protection duration. The extension to the Copyright Act is Computer Software Copyright Act of 1980also known as The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA),which is applied to machine-readable software. It is used by software companies in order to prevent the prohibited copying of their software and to enforce the terms of open source licenses. The DMCA criminalizes production and dissemination of devices, services, and technologies which are intended to control access to copyrighted works. In 2000, the European Union in the Directive to Electronic Commerce adopted the innovation to Software Act in the copyright field and the indirect liability exemption of the providers of the internet service. It strongly tilts in favor of copyright holders, creates new digital materials rules, mandates important reports and studies, and sets the time frames for their completion. It also addresses items that are of libraries concern: mandates distance education activities in network environments; limits copyright infringement for online service providers; provides updating of the archival preservation rules and procedures; expands an exemption for making computer programs copies; imposes rules prohibiting the circumvention of technological protection measures.

From the Christian worldview, intellectual property including copyright neglects the biblical ethic of private property. Intellectual property right grand is the same as monopoly right grand on the use of an idea, and they are government issued licenses to attack property rights. Intellectual property attempts to prevent the owners from using their property and it is a violation of private property ethics because patent and copyright laws try to stop the use of a copy. The biblical ethic of private property suggests the ideal that what belongs to someone belongs to that person absolutely.

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Thus, we can share it and do whatever we want assuming that we have bought it or it was given to us through a legitimate process. As a rule, opposition comes from Christian or similarly-minded people about the immorality of their intellectual property sharing. In fact, the Bible does not say anything about intellectual property. There is no mention of such concept. At the same time, we may say that two of the Ten Commandments teach the right to private property saying that we shall not steal and covet. It is very implicit; nevertheless, in case property was held in common, stealing and coveting would not be possible.

Thus, copyright is the author’s right to protect his work and it gives him opportunity to produce or reproduce it. It protects the way of authors’ expressions and extends only to the information written in the work. The owner of copyright can reproduce or display the copyright protected work, to prepare and publish derivative works, and to distribute copies of the work by sale, lending, or in other ways. There are a lot of subtleties and international variations of copyright, but the gist remains the same. Development of science and technology caused appearance of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act which protects computer programs. Copyright law is compatible with private property and intellectual property ethic having no place in the Christian worldview.

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