Copyright is a form of intellectual property that grants the creator of an original creative work an exclusive legal right to determine whether and under what conditions this original work may be copied and used by others, usually for a limited term of years. The exclusive rights are not absolute but limited by limitations and exceptions to copyright law, including fair use. A major limitation on copyright on ideas is that copyright protects only the original expression of ideas, and not the underlying ideas themselves.
Copyright is applicable to certain forms of creative work. Some, but not all jurisdictions require “fixing” copyrighted works in a tangible form. It is often shared among multiple authors, each of whom holds a set of rights to use or license the work, and who are commonly referred to as rights holders. These rights frequently include reproduction, control over derivative works, distribution, public performance, and moral rights such as attribution.
Copyrights can be granted by public law and are in that case considered “territorial rights”. This means that copyrights granted by the law of a certain state, do not extend beyond the territory of that specific jurisdiction. Copyrights of this type vary by country; many countries, and sometimes a large group of countries, have made agreements with other countries on procedures applicable when works “cross” national borders or national rights are inconsistent.
Typically, the public law duration of a copyright expires 50 to 100 years after the creator dies, depending on the jurisdiction. Some countries require certain copyright formalities to establishing copyright; others recognize copyright in any completed work, without formal registration. Generally, copyright is enforced as a civil matter, though some jurisdictions do apply criminal sanctions.
Most jurisdictions recognize copyright limitations, allowing “fair” exceptions to the creator’s exclusivity of copyright and giving users certain rights. The development of digital media and computer network technologies have prompted reinterpretation of these exceptions, introduced new difficulties in enforcing copyright, and inspired additional challenges to the philosophical basis of copyright law. Simultaneously, businesses with great economic dependence upon copyright, such as those in the music business, have advocated the extension and expansion of copyright and sought additional legal and technological enforcement.
Copyright licenses can also be granted by those deputized by the original claimant, and private companies may request this as a condition of doing business with them. Services of internet platform providers like YouTube, Facebook, Hotmail, DropBox, Instagram, WhatsApp or Twitter only can be used when users grant the platform provider beforehand the right to co-use all uploaded content, including all material exchanged per email, chat or cloud-storage. These copyrights only apply for the firm that operates such a platform, no matter in what jurisdiction the platform-services are being offered. Private companies in general do not recognize exceptions or give users more rights than the right to use the platform according certain rules
For a work to be considered to infringe upon copyright, its use must have occurred in a nation that has domestic copyright laws or adheres to a bilateral treaty or established international convention such as the Berne Convention or WIPO Copyright Treaty. Improper use of materials outside of legislation is deemed “unauthorized edition”, not copyright infringement.
Statistics regarding the effects of copyright infringement are difficult to determine. Studies have attempted to determine whether there is a monetary loss for industries affected by copyright infringement by predicting what portion of pirated works would have been formally purchased if they had not been freely available. Other reports indicate that copyright infringement does not have an adverse effect on the entertainment industry, and can have a positive effect.