What is copyright? Why do I care?

Copyright protects our original creative expressions once they are fixed to a tangible medium. So let’s break that down…

A work is considered “original” as long as it has not been copied from someone else. The requirement that the work be “creative” is not an evaluation of artistic merit or the quality of the expression. Almost any personal choice of wording, sounds, colors, materials, etc. will reflect enough creativity to satisfy this requirement.

The final requirement is that the work be fixed to a “tangible medium” is the most basic requirement a work must have in order to enjoy copyright protection. If the work is stored in some permanent (or even semi-permanent) medium that enables copying, accessing or transmission of the work by others, it is considered to be fixed into a tangible medium. When it comes to the word “tangible” in copyright, it’s less about the ability to touch and more about the permanence and the ability to perceive it. If the medium allows you to take the work and show it to someone in a different time and place, it’s tangible as far as the law is concerned.

FAQs

What are examples of works that can be covered by copyright?

Copyright covers all sorts of creative and expressive works like, vlog posts, articles, songs, recipe books, instruction manuals, and even computer software programs (which are essentially instruction manuals written for computers).

Could two authors unknowingly produce the same work and it still be considered “original”?

Yes, it is possible that two authors unknowingly produce the same work and the work still be considered “original” expression. This would require that both authors demonstrate that they did not know about the other’s work.

Can I copyright a particular style, for example my artistic or writing style?

No, whether the work is artistic or informational in nature, copyright protection extends only to the author’s individual expression (that is, her specific contribution) and not to the underlying idea, style, or basic factual information embodied within the work.

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