Know Your Rights
What is Copyright?
Copyright is a set of exclusive rights that give you control over how your creative work is used. Copyright protects expression, not ideas, so copyright protection occurs the moment your expression is fixed in a tangible, or concrete, medium. That means that the idea you have isn’t protected until, for example, you write it down, save it in your computer, record it on a memory card in your camera, sketch or paint it. In the United States, your exclusive copyrights originate in the Constitution, (Article 1, section 8, clause 8) which gives Congress the power to pass laws to promote the progress of science and art by giving creators exclusive rights to their creations for limited periods of time. Copyright law, which has changed many times since 1790, is currently governed by the Copyright Act of 1976, and as amended, by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), passed in 1998.
Copyright protection extends to:
- literary works such as poems, novels and plays
- choreographic works, musical compositions,and audio recordings
- works of visual art such as drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures
- radio and television broadcasts of live or taped performances
- and in some jurisdictions, notably those in Europe, databases
Copyright does not protect ideas, concepts, facts, styles or techniques that may be included in a work.
While the rights and benefits conferred by copyright apply universally to all works protected by copyright, there are certain exceptions and anomalies specific to the music industry, so the following information may not be accurate for music copyrights.