Sinonimi: right of first publication
Law applying to literary, musical, and artistic works (including plays, recordings, films, photographs, radio and television broadcasts, and, in the US and the UK, computer programs), which prevents the reproduction of the work, in whole or in part, without the author's consent.
Copyright applies to a work, not an idea. For example, the basic plots of two novels might be identical, but copyright would be infringed only if it was clear that one author had copied from another. A translation is protected in its own right. The copyright holder may assign the copyright to another or license others to reproduce or adapt the work. In 1991, the US Supreme Court ruled that copyright does not exist in the information in a telephone directory since “copyright rewards originality, not effort”.
In the US (since 1989) copyright lasts for a holder's lifetime plus 50 years, or a flat 75 years for a company copyright. It must be registered with the US Copyright Office of the Library of Congress to bring a court action. Works first federally copyrighted before 1978 must still be renewed in the 28th year to receive the second term of 47 years or it will fall into the public domain at the end of the 28th year. Various conditions apply to works published before 1989 and those between Jan 1, 1978, and March 1, 1989. For specific information, contact the Copyright Office, Library of Congress, Washington, DC. Copyright is internationally enforceable under the Berne Convention 1886 (ratified by the US March 1, 1989) and the Universal Copyright Convention 1952 Computer software is specifically covered in the US under the Copyright Act 1976 and the Computer Software Act 1980.
In 1995 China was forced to crack down on its thriving industry of pirated goods (illegal copies of items protected by international copyright) after the US threatened to impose punitive tariffs of up to 100% on all Chinese-made imports.
A document granting exclusive right to publish and sell literary or musical or artistic work; SYN. right of first publication.
A method of protecting the rights of an originator of a creative work, such as a text, a piece of music, a painting, or a computer program, through law. In many countries the originator of a work has copyright in the work as soon as it is fixed in a tangible medium (such as a piece of paper or a disk file); that rule applies in the United States for works created after 1977. Registration of a copyright, or the use of a copyright symbol, is not needed to create the copyright but does strengthen the originator’s legal powers. Unauthorized copying and distribution of copyrighted material can lead to severe penalties, whether done for profit or not. Copyrights affect the computer community in three ways: the copyright protection of software, the copyright status of material (such as song lyrics) distributed over a network such as the Internet, and the copyright status of original material distributed over a network (such as a newsgroup post). The latter two involve electronic media that are arguably not tangible, and legislation protecting the information disseminated through electronic media is still evolving. See also fair use, General Public License.