Copyright is a form of intellectual property protection provided by the laws of the United States. Copyright protection is available for original works of authorship that are fixed in a tangible form, whether published or unpublished. The categories of works that can be protected by copyright laws include paintings, literary works, live performances, photographs, movies, and software.
The dictionary defines copyright as "a person's exclusive right to reproduce, publish, or sell his or her original work of authorship (as a literary, musical, dramatic, artistic, or architectural work)."
It's important to understand that copyright law covers the "form of material expression," not the actual concepts, ideas, techniques, or facts in a particular work. This is the reason behind why a work must be fixed in a tangible form in order to receive copyright protection. A couple examples of works being fixed in a tangible form include stories written on paper and original paintings on canvas.
Quick Copyright Facts for Technology Users
* Most information on the Internet is not in the public domain.
* Most software, including freeware, is not in the public domain.
* A good way to determine whether a multimedia resource is copyright protected or in the public domain is to relate it as closely as possible to a print resource.
* Sometimes, asking permission is simply polite, even if you're not legally required to do so!