Copyright is a legal term used to describe the rights that creators have over their literary and artistic works. Works covered by copyright range from books, music, paintings, sculpture and films, to computer programs, databases, advertisements, maps and technical drawings.
Works covered by copyright include, but are not limited to:
- literary works such as novels, poems, plays, reference works, newspapers and computer programs; databases;
- films, musical compositions, and choreography;
- artistic works such as paintings, drawings, photographs and sculpture;
- architecture; and
- advertisements, maps and technical drawings.
Copyright protection extends only to expressions, and not to ideas, procedures, methods of operation or mathematical concepts as such. Copyright may or may not be available for titles, slogans, or logos, depending on whether they contain sufficient authorship. In most circumstances copyright does not protect names.
There are two types of rights under copyright: economic rights allow the rights owner to derive financial reward from the use of his works by others; and moral rights are the rights to claim authorship of a work, and the right to oppose changes to the work that could harm the creator's reputation.
Most copyright laws state that the author or rights owner has the right to authorize or prevent certain acts in relation to a work. The rights owner of a work can prohibit or authorize:
- its reproduction in various forms, such as printed publication or sound recording;
- its public performance, such as in a play or musical work;
- its recording (“fixation”), for example, in the form of compact discs or DVDs;
- its broadcasting, by radio, cable or satellite;
- its translation into other languages; and
- its adaptation, such as a novel into a film screenplay.
According to the Berne Convention, copyright protection is obtained automatically without the need for registration or other formalities. Some national copyright offices and laws do however provide for registration of works. This can facilitate, for example, questions involving disputes over ownership or creation, financial transactions, sales, assignments and transfer of rights.