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What Is Copyright?

Copyright initially was conceived as a way for government to restrict printing. It is defined as the legal right granted to an author, composer, playwright, publisher, or a distributor for exclusively producing or publishing their original work. Work that is not copyrighted is known to be available in the public domain, and anyone is free to access such work and use it without seeking permission from the original creator.

Any piece of work protected by the copyright, is usually denoted by a ‘c’ with a circle around it (which is the symbol for copyright), or the word ‘Copyright’, followed by the name of the copyright holder and the year of first publication.

Copyright laws are governed by the Copyright Act of 1976 and the work granted with copyright (for any work created after January 1, 1978) is protected for the lifetime of the creator of the work plus fifty years after his or her death. But for any work created before January 1, 1978 (that is, prior to the enactment of the copyright act), the copyright starts from January 1, 1978, and extends up to December 31, 2002. Prior to the enactment of the Copyright Act, the common law granted copyright protection to all forms of unpublished works. However, after the enactment of the Copyright Act, the rights made available by the common-law stood abolished.

Many feel that to restrain the flow of knowledge based resource from one generation to another by using copyrights and patents is ethically and morally incorrect and that it reflects a monopolistic nature to uphold the commercial interests of the rich and the influential.