Copyright is protection provided by law ( 17, U.S. Code §102) to the authors/creators of "original works of authorship," expressed in any tangible medium of expression.These works include:
musical works, including any accompanying words;
Anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or "statutory" damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed. For "willful" infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can, in its discretion, also assess costs and attorneys' fees. For details, see Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504, 505.
In general, if the work was created after January 1, 1978, the copyright lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years. These works are not subject to renewal. However, if a work was created before then, the term can vary and it may be up for renewal.
Most countries will offer protection to foreign works and works of their nationality. However, it does vary from country to country. There is no international copyright coverage. The best option is to research the country in particular that you wish to know the copyright for.
Using Works from Others
Being online does not mean you can use the work. Many resources found online are copyrighted and you must have permission before using them. Do your research before using an image, text, or other such works from online. If you are unsure if it is copyrighted, assume that it is until known for certain. Look for Creative Commons or Public Domain licensing for works you can use.
Most works online are copyrighted. If the image you desire to use is in the public domain or creative commons, then you can use it for free. Otherwise, the work is copyrighted and will either need to fall under fair use or you need to request permission.
Quantity is one of the factors to consider when using fair use. However, there are no clear rules on what accounts as a small portion of the work. Be sure to do a full fair use analysis before assuming you can use a copyrighted work.
One of the best ways to tell if I work is copyrighted is to check the work itself. Look for a copyright notice . You can also check the date. Works created after January 1, 1978 are most likely copyrighted. Before then depends on the year. Another option is to search copyright databases. These contain records of the copyright of most works.
Most works are either owned by the author or publisher (which may be a company). Many works will list the owner on it, like the copyright page in a book. You can also check copyright databases for information on the owner.
Permission is required anytime a copyrighted work doesn't fall under fair use. You ask the owner if you may request permission to use their work. BYU-I has an Intellectual Property Rights Specialist who can help you with seeking permission.
A work is automatically considered to be copyrighted once it is expressed in a tangible medium. Registration is a voluntary action. However, there are benefits to registering a work, such as proof of ownership.
There are forms with the U.S. Copyright Office that can be filled out online or in person to register your copyright.
When your personal work is being infringed on, you may file a civil law suit at a local district court. You may also contact BYU-I's Intellectual Property Rights Specialist for help concerning this.
Do not ignore a copyright infringement notice. It can only make the problem worse. The best course of action will be to seek legal counsel of some sort. You may contact the BYU-I Intellectual Property Rights Specialist about this and they will help you.