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What is Copyright?

 

Publishing any media, whether digital or print imposes a responsibility to understand copyright. Copyright is an automatic protection of creative works from duplication. It does not require any formal registration, however there are facilities where this can be done so that the primary copyright cannot be disputed.

There are instances where copyright does not apply, and instances where prior creative work may be used under the umbrella of fair use of intellectual property.

Copyright Law

Copyright statutes aim to encourage development of intellectual property and artistic products for the public good. Creators are given exclusive rights, for limited times, to copy and distribute their works. They may also control the use of and seek payment for their original creations and for their derivative works. This applies to art, publishing, and software.

The main law protecting intellectual property for digital publishers is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

What is protected by copyright law?

Your artwork is your intellectual property, and it is protected by copyright law.

Your art (graphics, photos, music, etc.) becomes protected by copyright when you take it from an idea or concept and make it into something fixed and tangible. The basic requirements that a work of art must meet to qualify for copyright protection are:

  • It must be original. The artwork must be original, not copied from anything else.
  • It must be creative. The artwork must show at least a minimum amount of creativity.
  • It must be fixed in a tangible medium, regardless of whether that is digital, painted, drawn, music, scanned, printed, photographic or any combination accessible by any device

If you can see or touch your artwork, with or without the aid of a machine or device, no matter what its medium, it qualifies as being fixed in a tangible medium of expression. And you own it and the copyrights to it. Unless it's been pre-empted by the Frumious Bandersnatch; see the section further on for due warning!

So you cannot just scrape content off websites and print them into your book. All published works are copyright automatically.

Next: The Digital Millennium Copyright Act

 

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Please note that these articles about Copyright are informational only. Please consult your legal advisor.