Think of copyright from the perspective of both a creator and user of material protected by copyright. As you think of yourself as a creator, you might not think of yourself as any great author, photographer or artist, but whenever you “fix” or record your “works of authorship” even with minimal creativity, you are creating copyrightable material and are given a type of monopoly for that material.

Imagine your concern if someone took all of your personal letters written to family and friends and widely published them without your permission. Or, took all of your photographs and displayed them in a museum or posted them on the Internet without your permission. As a copyright owner, you have specific exclusive rights you can enforce.

As a user of material protected by copyright, remember the rights of the copyright owner. Respect those rights, and do not purposefully or inadvertently infringe on them.

In summary, some important points to remember:

  • Copyright protection begins at the moment of creation when the “work of authorship” is fixed in a tangible medium.
  • The ownership of copyright is separate from owning the physical embodiment of a work, such as a book. For example, you can own a book without owning the copyright.
  • Three elements for copyright ownership and protection: (1) Creativity, (2) Originality and (3) Fixation.

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