Copyright law protects authors and other creative persons from the unauthorized use of their copyrighted materials and provides a financial incentive for such persons to write.
Copyrighted works must be tangible writings and must be the original work of the author. The term of a copyright is life of the author plus 50 years for individual registrants. Business registrants are granted copyrights for the shorter of either 100 years from the date of creation or 75 years from the date of publication.
Fair use doctrine and copyright infringement
When a person copies a substantial and material part of a copyrighted work without permission, copyright infringement occurs. Copying does not have to be either word for word or the entire work.
A copyright holder’s rights in a work are not absolute. Under the fair use doctrine, limited unauthorized use of copyrighted materials is permitted.
The following uses are protected under the fair use doctrine:
• Quotation of the copyrighted work for review or criticism or in a scholarly technical work
• Use in a parody or satire
• Brief quotation in a news report
• Reproduction by a teacher of student of a small part of the work to illustrate a lesson
• Incidental reproduction of a work in a newsreel or broadcast
• Reproduction of a work in a legislative or judicial proceeding
*note: Sound recordings are in the law as “works that result from the fixation of a series of musical, spoken, or other sounds, but not including the sounds accompanying a motion picture or other audiovisual work.” Common examples include recordings of music, drama, or lectures.
A phonorecord is the physical object in which works of authorship are embodied. The word phonorecord” includes cassette tapes, CDs, and vinyl disks as well as other formats.