Copyright Legislation and Copyright Violation

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                      The Copyright Law Act Of 1976 Is Still Relevant In Today's Digital Age
                                                                  By Brian Scott

   The Copyright Law Act of 1976 is the basis of United States copyright laws. The Copyright Law Act
states the rights of copyright owners, the doctrine of the Fair Use copyright laws, and it changed the
term life of copyrights. Before the Copyright Law Act, the law had not been revised since 1909. It was
necessary that copyright laws be revised to take into account technological strides that were being
made in radio, sound recordings, motions pictures and more. The Copyright Law Act of 1976
preempted all previous laws that were on the books in the United States, including the Copyright Act of

The Copyright Law Act of 1976 defines "works of authorship" to include all of the following:

* Musical works * Literary works * Dramatic works * Pictorial, sculptural and graphics * Motion
Pictures and Audiovisuals * Sound Recordings * Choreographic Works and Pantomimes * An eighth
work which falls under "architectural works" was later added in 1990.

What is unique about the United States copyright law is that it is automatic. Once someone has an idea
and produces it in tangible form, the creator is the copyright holder and has the authority to enforce his
exclusivity to it. In other words, the person is the owner of the creation. It is not necessary that a
person register their work. However, it is recommended and it can serve as evidence if someone ever
violates a copyright.

Violations of US Copyright Laws are generally enforced in a civil court setting. However, there could
also be criminal sanctions brought against someone who violates US copyright laws. Someone who is
in serious violation of US Copyright Laws, such as counterfeiting, can find themselves on the inside of
prison. People need to understand that the copyright symbol is not a requirement. Someone may have
a copyright, yet their work may not have a copyright notice or symbol.

US Copyright Law covers a wide range of things that are derived from artistic expression, intellectual or
creative work. This includes things such as literary works, music, drawings, photographs, software,
movies, choreographic works such as ballets and plays, poems, paintings and more. The law covers
the form of expression, not the concept, facts or the actual idea of the work. This means that someone
can use another person's idea or concept and produce their own take on it. However, copying another
person's work is a violation. Some things may not be copyrighted but they may be protected by a

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patent or trademark.

Individuals who have a copyright on a particular piece of work can do what they want with it. They may
choose to copy it and sell it. They may display their work or perform it in public and charge admission,
or they can assign or sell the work to someone else. Individuals who have a copyright can also choose
to do nothing with their work, if that is their desire. However, if someone comes along and takes the
work and tries to use it in some way, that person is still in violation of the owner's copyright. The
Copyright Law Act covers published and unpublished works.

Brian Scott is a freelance journalist who covers copyright law for
Download his free e-book, "Copyright Basics" at

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                             The Fine Line Between Plagerism And Copyright Violation
                                                           By Brian Scott

 The terms "plagiarism" and "copyright violation" are often used interchangeably. Although that may
work well for most dinner table conversations, it's actually incredibly incorrect. Not all acts of
plagiarism are copyright violations and the two concepts are actually quite distinct.

Copyright violation refers to the use of protected material without the appropriately expressed consent
of the owner. If you take a poem I have written and to which I hold copyright and then place it on your
website, you are violating my copyright. You are breaking the law.

Are you plagiarizing? Maybe. If you indicate that I am the author (attribution) you aren't really
plagiarizing. You have certainly stolen my poem and you are in violation of copyright law, but you
aren't passing it off as your own.

Plagiarism refers to stealing the work or ideas of another person for your own use without properly
attributing the source. Being a plagiarist can get you in trouble in academic and professional settings,
but it isn't necessarily illegal.

Illegality only enters the picture at the point of a copyright violation.

Plagiarism is, primarily, an ethical issue. It involves whether it is right or wrong to copy or to steal the
ideas of another and pretend as if it is your own.

Copyright, on the other hand, is a legal matter. It involves whether your use of someone else's work
infringes their intellectual property rights.

All copyright violations aren't plagiarism. Not all plagiarism rises to the level of copyright violation.
However, the two phenomena do overlap a great deal. In many cases, the plagiarist will be a copyright
infringer. Quite often, the person violating a copyright will be in the process of plagiarizing.

Nonetheless, it does make sense to understand the difference between the two acts. If someone
plagiarizes you, you may or may not have recourse. It will usually depend upon whether the act also
constitutes an infringement of copyright.

Brian Scott is a freelance journalist who covers copyright law for
Download his free e-book, "Copyright Basics" at

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