Copyright is widely recognized but what it really means in terms of legal ownership and what you can do with anything that is subject to copyright, is often subject to a whole host of basic misconceptions, not to mention the odd urban legend or two.
This Ultimate Guide to Copyright aims to put you right on these misconceptions and provide you with a solid foundation of learning that should enable you to approach the subject of copyright with greater confidence.
The Ultimate Guide to Copyright
Introduction: What is Copyright?
Copyright is a topic with a lot of misconceptions and urban legends surrounding it.
This makes it both simple and complicated to understand at the same time. Simple, because a fairly straightforward set of principles governs how it works; complicated, because there are a number of contradictories, conflicting, and confusing ideas to deal with.
This guide will deal with all of those in subsequent chapters, but for now, let’s focus on what copyright is fundamental.
- Copyright is the legal and exclusive right to copy, or permit to be copied, some specific work of art.
- If you own the copyright on something, someone else cannot make a copy of it without your permission.
- Copyright usually originates with the creator of a work, but can be sold, traded, or inherited by others.
Why you should care
If you run a website you may have to deal with copyright law and related issues from two different sides: as a producer and as a consumer.
If you blog, take photographs, publish music, or otherwise produce copyrightable content, you legally own that content. Whether you want to let other people use it or not is your decision, and there are things you need to know and do in either case.
If you want to use other people’s content, you have to understand permissions and licensing, what is legal and what isn’t.
This dual-role of producer and the consumer is somewhat unique in history. It is a relatively recent phenomenon that regular people published their own writing, music, video, and other artwork. Copyright law, and the practical applications of it have been racing to catch up with this new world. Not everything is settled yet, but there are enough firm principles that you can protect yourself if you take the time to learn about it.
This guide will walk you through the most important issues concerning copyright law and its practical applications to you as a web master.
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