Copyright grants its holder the sole legal right to copy works of original expression, such as literary works, movies, musical works, sound recordings, paintings, computer programs, or industrial designs, for a defined period of time.
Copyright only pertains to ideas that are in a tangible form. An idea for a movie may not be copyright protected but a screenplay is copyright protected.
What is Fair Use?
Title 17, Section 107 of the United States Code is the fair use doctrine. This doctrine provides that certain uses of copyrighted works for purposes such as "criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship or research" are permitted without copyright permission. The points to consider in order to determine fair use are:
- Purpose and character of the use--educational use is permitted
- Factual or creative nature of the original work--facts such as statistical tables are permitted; a creative analysis of statistics is not permitted
- Amount and substantive value of the work being copied relative to the work as a whole--a general rule of thumb is that no more than 20% of an original work may be copied
- Effect of the use on the market for, or value of, the copyrighted work--materials may not be sold or copied and distributed for free.
What is Public Domain?
- Materials in the public domain are free of copyright restrictions
- Public domain may include information, knowledge, discoveries, and artistic creation never or no longer protected by copyright
- Materials published before 1923 or published after 1923 with no copyright notice or no renewed copyright notice may be in the public domain