Writers, artists, musicians, photographers and other people who are engaged in creative professions get paid for the use of their works. Unfortunately, in real life this statement is not always true. We’ll say more, in the modern internet era creators of different intellectual products such as artists, photographers or software developers often get nothing for copying and usage of their works. Therefore, let us correct the first sentence and say that people of art MUST get paid. Copyright provides such a liability for users of borrowed content.
Copyright includes laws that protect authors’ rights to their literary or music works, scientific researches, software, images and other types of intellectual property. These principals regulate the system of intellectual products usage, including the right to their copying, publication or practical application. Copyright also defines the size of payment that borrowers must pay to authors.
Sometimes people confuse two different terms – copywriting and copyright, because of similar pronouncing. Copywriting means creation of marketing texts. It is not directly related to the legal concept of copyright.
Copyright holders often indicate their rights using a special symbol, their first name, surname and the year of work publication. The World Intellectual Property Copyright Convention proposed this protection method in the late 90s. Hypothetically, Dickens’s copyright for The Adventures of Oliver Twist might look like:
© Charles Dickens, 1837
Copyright symbol consists of the Latin letter “C” put in a circle. To display it in electronic texts use one of the following methods:
- If you are working in the MS Word text editor, click on “Insert”, then “Symbol” and choose ©.
- Use the keyboard shortcut Alt + 0169.
- Use a symbol table that you could find here: “Start – All Programs – Accessories – System Tools”.
Copyright legislation in different countries
Copyright is regulated by national and international laws. The first group includes the World Copyright Convention and the Berne Convention. WCC determines conditions that provide copyright protection. Rights owner in its turn must use the special symbol © with author’s name and publication date.
Most countries, including the United States, Germany, Britain, France and Russia participate in the Berne convention. The states that joined this convention keep the principle of automatic protection. It ensures legal protection of right holders’ interests even without copyright note (symbol, author’s name and publication date). Despite the international expansion of the Berne convention, practically every country demonstrates its own specific legislative features.
For example, the USA legislation has a tougher stance. This country follows the principle of automatic protection, so authors can avoid putting the copyright symbol on their works. But the absence of the © sign can help pirates to reduce author’s stated claims at court.
The UK and most of the British Commonwealth nations are also consistent with copyright principles of the Berne Convention. However, everyone is free to use intelligent products in accordance with the concept of fair use (fair dealing). For example, Canadian law allows copying any work for private purposes. Australian copyright acts allow free copying of intelligent products for educational and scientific purposes or parodies creation.
How to protect copyright?
Although the principle of automatic protection defines the fact of product creation as sufficient to protect copyright, sometimes authors want to get additional safeguards for their interests. To do this, it is necessary to confirm the authorship and date of intellectual products creation.
Use the following methods of copyright protection:
- Specify copyright by the special sign, author’s name and creation date. Notice that every piece needs to have its own copyright. You may use Visual Watermark software to protect your photos and create a unique effect. This solution also allows quick protection of a large number of photos.
- Notarize your authorship and the day of intellectual product creation.
- Register electronic documents confirming your authorship.
- Send a copy of your work to your mail. Do not open the postmarked envelope.
- Deposit copies of your intellectual product in the author’s society.
These methods will not protect you against unauthorized use of intellectual property. However, you can prove your authorship at court or oblige thieves to stop the illegal usage and get compensation.
So, copyright is a legal term that defines mechanisms of copyright regulation. According to the Berne Convention, every created piece of art is automatically protected by copyright. If it is insufficient then you should use additional methods for copyright protection. They will help you to confirm authorship, stop the illegal use of your product and obtain compensation.