Copyright is a form of protection given to the authors or creators of "original works of authorship," including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic and other intellectual works.
This includes YOUR writings and work.
Copyright law gives you a set of rights that prevents other people from copying or using your work without your permission. So, it also prevents you from doing the same to work from others.
Copyright protects original works of authorship that are fixed in a tangible form of expression. The fixed form does not have to be directly perceptible so long as it can be communicated with the aid of a machine or other device. Copyrightable works fall into the following categories:
- literary works (which includes computer software);
- musical works, including any accompanying words;
- dramatic works, including any accompanying music ;
- pantomimes and choreographic works;
- pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
- motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
- sound recordings;
- architectural works.
Avoid breaking copyright law. Give credit to the person who originally created the piece. See Citation Help.
Digital Materials: Copyright laws relating to ownership and fair use are in effect regardless of the the type of medium used. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act also states that it is unlawful to manufacture of distribute programs that crack anti-piracy codes or attempt to get around these codes.
Posting on the Web: If the works are copyrighted, you must get permission before posting.
Downloading and File Sharing: Copyrighted software, music (either sound recordings or digital performances), videos, movies and images cannot be downloaded unless they were legally purchased or licensed and are for your own personal use. Any type of reproduction, adaptation or distribution of any kind is illegal. To upload these files using P2P file sharing is also illegal. Federal law madates that Coe College take action when notified of an unlawful downloading or distribution of a copyrighted work.
Federal and Institutional Penalties for Infringement
Penalties or copyright infringement include civil and criminal penalties. In general, anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or "statutory" damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed. For "willful" infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can, in its discretion, also assess costs and attorneys' fees. For details, see Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504, 505.
Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense. For more information, please see the Web site of the U.S. Copyright Office, especially their FAQs.
More on Copyright
- Copyright Law Fundamentals Flowchart - A Digital Annotated Concept Map of the Fundamentals of U.S. Copyright Law by Lionel S. Sobel, Professor, Southwestern University School of Law. Editor, Entertainment Law Reporter
- Stanford Copyright & Fair Use Center - Stanford University Libraries
- Copyright Law of the United States and Related Laws Contained in Title 17 of the United States Code
- Columbia University Copyright Advisory Office