Many people heard about Copyright and Copyright Law but do not quite understand what it means. We will try to explain the basics of it.
U.S. copyright law evolved from English Common Law and Statutory Law. During more than two hundred years copyright has grown up into a complex body of law. The USA Founders included copyright in the Constitution, and its rights and limits are still a part of the continuous debate.
Copyright law is about balance. It gives creators the right to control their works along with being compensated for various uses of their works. At the same time, these rights are limited in time and scope. It was done with the purpose to give the public an opportunity to access the creative works and reuse them in new creative ways. Often the copyright is understood only as a scope of restrictions while in reality it has permissive aspects such as Fair Use Doctrine and the Public Domain.
The Fair Use doctrine means the use of the creative work not for gaining profit but rather for information and educational purposes.
The Public Domain doctrine means that the copyright works go to the public use when the copyright terms and intellectual property rights are expired, been forfeited, or are inapplicable. Examples of such works are poems by Dante, music by Mozart, paintings of old masters, and some old silent movies. “The term is not normally applied to situations when the creator of a work retains residual rights, in which case use of the work is referred to as “under license” or with permission. In informal usage, the public domain consists of works that are publicly available; while according to the formal definition it consists of works that are unavailable for private ownership or are available for public use.”
In order to show the copyright it is accustomed to use several symbols that are not quite the same. We are going to explain the symbols and the difference among them in our further posts.