Copyright Law the Protection of Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Another instance may be where a novel writer retains authorship of the novel but can opt to allow a publisher to hold exclusive rights as to the copyright of the novel.

Although copyright law exists to protect an author's right to his or her works, the protection is not in perpetuity but has time limitations. Depending on the country where the copyright law is in place, the protection can be from several years to several decades. In the case of the United States Copyright Act of 1976, "the duration of the copyright for works created after January 1, 1978 is life of the author plus an additional 70 years as per 17 USC §302(a) as amended 1998 and current to November 2008 (Standler 2010). This is a general provision though since there are some works that are already considered in the public domain (especially those published before 1923) while others have continued to have copyright protection since notice of copyright has been re-acquired by descendants of the author. Other copyright duration provision is different for the "the copyright term for 'works made for hire' which is 95 years from the date of first 'publication' (distribution of copies to the general public) or 120 years from the date of creation, whichever expires first (Radcliffe 1999)."

Copyright law has certain exclusions wherein permission of the original author is not required under certain conditions. One of these conditions is contained in the Fair Use provision of the U.S. Copyright Act. "Under the doctrine of fair use, an author may make short quotations for purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, or scholarship, without first obtaining permission of the copyright owner of the quoted work. However, every quotation must be clearly identified with the source of the quotation and the name of the author of the quoted text. (Templeton 2008)" Students who write various academic papers are familiar with this doctrine and know that they can quote from various sources provided they provide the proper citations and references. Absent any citation or reference, the student is guilty of plagiarism and is considered academically dishonest as well as in gross violation of the copyright laws not only of the United States but other countries' as well.

Some people might think that in order to have copyright protection, the original author of the work must have made a public copyright notice. This is not the case especially with the promulgation of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works first in 1886 then reaffirmed in 1976. Article 6 bis (1) of said convention states, "Independently of the author's economic rights, and even after the transfer of the said rights, the author shall have the right to claim authorship of the work and to object to any distortion, mutilation or other modification of, or other derogatory action in relation to, the said work, which would be prejudicial to his honor or reputation (Standler 2010)." The convention thus protects not only the legal rights of the original authors but moral rights also and countries that are signatory to the Berne Convention need to abide by the provisions thereof. Said provisions of the Berne Convention will have to be manifested in the copyright laws of parties belonging to this convention.

The protection of an author's original and tangible work has for several centuries been manifested in various copyright statutes promulgated by different nations. It is a means of acknowledging legal ownership and ensures that these original and creative works or designs are not stolen. With copyright law, authors will have no fear that their works will compromised thus providing also incentive to produce more original works, designs and other innovations.


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