The legal right granted to an author, composer, playwright, publisher, or distributor (or Software Author) to exclusive publication, production, sale, or distribution of a literary, musical, dramatic, or artistic (or programmatic) work.

Compare CopyLeft, CopyCentre.

Everything you create is automatically assigned copyright (which lasts a limited term - normally from the time of creation until 70 years after the author's death; or if you're in America, for the rest of the Universe's natural existence, it would seem).

The copyright holder then has the right to determine who may make and distribute copies, and under what circumstances. The copyright holder may also sell all their rights to the work, as if it were physical property, or may remove copyright from something and put it in the PublicDomain.

Free software licenses, such as the GeneralPublicLicense, rely on the copyright laws for enforcement. Breaching the GPL means you are breaking the copyright laws.

The way that copyright laws were written, you are not breaking any law by merely possessing copyrighted items without the copyright holder's permission, unless and until you re-distributed (or publicly displayed etc) the item (or a copy of the item). It appears that recent law changes in America (such as the DMCA) have changed this status quo (for Americans, at least). Australians too could have further restrictions on copyright/IP issues as a condition of their recently signed trade agreement with the USA.

Note: (c) is NOT legally enforcable as a copyright symbol. Don't use it. Ever. You need a C in a closed circle, like such: ©

But this doesn't matter so much now that the countries that are signatories to the Berne Convention on copyright automatically assign copyright on created works. Before that, you did need to explicitly declare your copyright...?

Part of CategoryLegalese