Copyright protection has become increasingly difficult, especially with the rapid rise of modern Internet technology and online social media platforms, which has made sharing content rather easy and economical. The laws established either by legislation or the courts that govern the Internet, including copyright laws, can hardly keep up. Copyright protection is of the essence as otherwise anyone can exploit the intellectual work of a creator for commercial gain. Copyright is needed to encourage new ideas, enterprise, and also to create a favorable climate for economic activity.
What Can Get Copywrite Protection?
To qualify for copyright protection, a work must satisfy three elements
- The work of authorship must be “fixed in a tangible medium of expression.” Basically the work must exist in some physical form for any length of time, no matter how brief.
- The work must be original and independently created by the author.
- Finally, there has to be some creative effort from the author behind the work, though there is no set rule about how much creativity is enough.
How Long Does a Copyright Last?
In the 18th Century, when the U.S. copyright laws were first drafted, they protected works only for fourteen years. But the Revision of the Copyright Act in 1831 changed the term of protection for copyrighted works to twenty-eight years, with the possibility of a fourteen-year extension.
By 1909, another major Revision of the U.S. Copyright Act changed the term of protection to twenty-eight years with a possible renewal of twenty-eight.
By 1998, copyright protection for works created after January 1, 1978, lasted for over a century (the life of the author plus 70 years).
For an anonymous work, a pseudonymous work, or works “made for hire”, the copyright lasts for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first.
For works created before 1978, there are different terms, depending on certain conditions. For any work published before 1923, it is available for use in the public domain.
While work that was published between 1923 and 1963 and not renewed, it can be used freely too. But if the work was published between 1923 and 1963 and it was renewed, then the copyright lasts 95 years from the date of first publication.
The copyright for any work published between 1964 and 1977 lasts for 95 years from the date of publication. For any work created before 1978 and published before December 31, 2002, the copyright lasts at least until December 31, 2047; for all unpublished work created before 1978, the copyright has expired and the work is in the public domain in the United States.
Know more about the different Terms and Duration of Copyright, from the Copyright Office.
The Internet And Copyright
The Internet is full of information and the general idea is that anything posted online can be copied or downloaded. But the truth is that almost everything on the net is protected in varying degrees by copyright law. Copyrighted works on the web include news stories, videos, novels, screenplays, music, graphics, pictures, movies, software, Usenet messages and even emails. Even the unique design of a Web page and its contents, including links, original text, graphics, audio, video, html and other markup language sequences and all other unique elements that make up the original material are copyrighted.:
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) provides a framework for copyright holders to protect their online content. If an author becomes aware of his work being infringed upon, then the copyright holder can notify the Internet Service Provider (ISP)/Online Service Provider (OSP) that contains the material about the alleged infringement. And the provider must act “expeditiously” to remove copyrighted work once it receives the notification.
You can use this as a useful guide to ensure that all your company’s online content is protected and avoid violation of U.S. copyright laws. For more detailed information check out the official copyright rules and guidelines.