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Defining a copyright and some of the issues it involves

One of the most prevalent and immediately noticeable elements of the world of intellectual property is the copyright. Everyone recognizes the "C in a circle" logo near many products and original works. But what does a copyright do, and why is it so important for companies and content creators?

Let's define the term first. A copyright is a form of legal protection for creators of original content, such as musical works, literary works pictures, software, broadcasts and other similar forms of work. The copyright forbids other people from utilizing the copyrighted work in a number of different contexts, such as derivative works (basing work on the copyrighted work), repurposing the work and displaying or distributing the work in public.

The copyright grants the owner of the copyright to grant other people to use their protected work in those ways. But utilizing the work in those contexts without permission is forbidden, and can lead to very serious legal consequences for offenders.

However, there are fair use laws, and these grant people the right to use copyrighted work in certain limited situations. For example, for the purpose of a parody, or to criticize or comment on the copyrighted work. Copyrighted work can also be utilized under fair use laws in news reports, for the purposes of teaching in a classroom, and for research purposes.

Obtaining a copyright isn't easy, but with the right legal counsel on your side, you (or your company) can protect a piece of work that is vital to your success.

Source: FindLaw, "What is a Copyright?," Accessed Feb. 24, 2016

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