Property is any physical or virtual entity that is owned by an individual or jointly by a group of individuals. An owner of property has the right to consume, sell, rent, mortgage, transfer and exchange his or her property. Important widely-recognized types of property include real property (land), personal property (other physical possessions), and intellectual property (rights over artistic creations, inventions, etc.), although the latter is not always as widely recognized or enforced. A title, or a right of ownership, is associated with property that establishes the relation between the goods/services and other individuals or groups, assuring the owner the right to dispense with the property in a manner he or she sees fit. [From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]
What does the “automatic copyright” concept refer to?
The current legislation in the field mandates that any form of intellectual property created by an individual that has been stored on a physical device is automatically protected by copyright. It is important to note that until the intellectual property has been recorded on a form of readable or reproducible storing environment, it cannot fall under the category of intellectual property eligible for automatic copyright. In essence, it is not the concept that is covered by the legislation, but rather the palpable form in which the idea has been put into practice.
Moreover, the similarities between the physical form of the intellectual property and other products in the same category will determine the originality. For better understanding, let’s use the example of Walt Disney’s trade mark character, Mickey Mouse. While an individual may draw and animate his very own talking mouse, the differences between it and the well-known Mickey Mouse will be the grounds for deciding the originality of the newborn cartoon character. In case the new cartoon persona and aspect of the mouse are not strikingly similar to the Disney trademark character, then the creator holds the right to automatic copyright without having to register it at the authorities. However, even though the registration is not mandatory, this action still has some benefits.
“A superb offering showing how to avoid lawsuits by getting one’s hands on thousands of public domain songs, movies and manuscripts that can be used on websites or anywhere else free of charge.” — James Coates, Chicago Tribune
“How do you tell the difference between what’s copyrighted and what isn’t? A good starting point is Stephen Fishman’s The Public Domain.” — Associated Press
“The constitutional guarantee of a public domain was one of the Framers’ most important gifts to our cultural tradition. This extraordinary book makes real the value of that gift in the 21st Century.” — Laurence Lessig, author,Code & Other Laws of Cyberspace
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What do all of these famous inventions have in common: air conditioning, airbags, bandages, barbed wire, blow dryers, can openers, cement, chewing gum, computers, credit cards, doughnuts, jeans, microwave ovens, paper towels, Play-Doh, Post-it Notes, potato chips, roller coasters, safety pins, Scotch tape, skateboards, staplers, straws, sunscreen, typewriters, Viagra, zippers?
If you’ve taken the necessary steps to register your copyrighted works, you inevitably will have an opportunity to royalties off of them. To take advantage of the opportunity, you will need to be familiar with copyright license agreements.
There is a growing number of scholars questioning how to align the First Amendment’s rule that “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech….” with intellectual property law that often does, in fact, abridge freedoms of speech. I’m in the middle of reading an entire book on the subject — which I’ll be reviewing here shortly. And, just recently, we saw a court (for the first time) note that parts of copyright law were unconstitutional due to the First Amendment. Law professor Peter Friedman points us to the latest of many recent treatises on the subject, by Christina Bohannan, entitled Copyright Harm and the First Amendment, which questions why copyright law does not require any showing of “harm” to get around the First Amendment issue.