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Updated on November 1, 2009

Copyright is the sole legal right of multiplying copies of an original work or composition; literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work. It grants the copyright holder (usually the author of the work, unless they've relinquished that right) the sole right to produce or publish the work or any substantial part thereof in any material form whatsoever, to perform or in the cast of a lecture to deliver, the work or any substantial part thereof in public, granted by law for a certain number of years.

It follows that there can be no copyright in ideas, but merely in the particular expression of ideas.

Reserved Rights

Copyright is reserved to the author, who may assign his right either wholly or in part, or grant any interest therein by license, provided the assignment or grant is made in writing, signed by the owner or his agent.

Copyright is the corpus of legal rights given to the authors of intellectual or artistic works to control exclusively the reproduction and dissemination of such works by others.

Almost all countries of the world have copyright laws for the protection of authors. Copyright law in the U.S. is based on a clause in the Constitution of the United States that empowers Congress "to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries". The first U.S. copyright statute was enacted by the First Congress in 1790. Four times since then it has been completely revised.

On February 15, 1973, sound recordings came under protection of the copyright statute in the U.S. for the first time.

Though dramatic or musical performance is not a publication, the right to perform a work is expressly included in copyright.

Copyright law includes the following types of works

  • Literary
  • Musical
  • Dramatic
  • Pantomimes and choreographic works
  • Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
  • Audiovisual works
  • Sound recordings
  • Derivative works
  • Compilations
  • Architectural works

Length of Copyright

Copyright endures for the life of the author plus a period of 70 years after his death (according to the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, it extended the term to 70 years from the 50 years in the Copyright Act of 1976); but in the case of a published work, any person may, 25 years after the death of the author reproduce the work on giving written notice to the owner of the right and paying him 10 per cent royalties on the published price. Infringement of copyright is the doing of anything which the owner has the sole right to do.

The remedies given for infringement are an injunction, damages, or an account of profits, or an order for the recovery of all infringing copies, but any action must be begun within three years of infringement.


  • The New International Illustrated Encyclopaedia, Volume 2, 1954
  • The Standard English Desk Dictionary, Volume 1 A-L, Bay Books, 1983
  • Merit Students Encyclopedia Dictionary, A-K, 1977, Macmillan Publishing
  • New Encyclopedia, Volume 7, 1971, Funk & Wagnalls


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    • 50 Caliber profile image

      50 Caliber 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      Thanks, great information,


    • darkside profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Australia

      And thank you for sharing the information that you've found.

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 

      6 years ago from Canada

      Hi again. I did a little research. Looks like pre-1923 is in the public domain. After that need to check each publication/and/or artwork individually to see if copyright was renewed after 28 years. Thanks for getting back to me on that.

    • darkside profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Australia

      @snakeslane, there's a good chance that the images from the 1926 magazines might be alright to use. But double check on that.

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 

      6 years ago from Canada

      Thank you darkside. I have some old magazines (from 1926) that have some great artwork I would like to use in Hub Pages. I am trying to find information on that kind of copying (images), which led me here. Looks like you don't visit this page (comments) often, but when you do, can you give me any tips? Regards, snakeskane

    • sligobay profile image


      7 years ago from east of the equator

      Late read of a new fan but I found it simple and direct.©

    • darkside profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Australia

      @Eaglekiwi, do it simply by copying and pasting the symbol. If you check at the bottom of most sites (scroll down and see this hub for instance) you'll notice the © symbol. Just copy and paste it into a text or word document or onto your website.

    • Eaglekiwi profile image


      9 years ago from -Oceania

      Good hub thanks

      I have noticed some work with the copyright symbol on it . How can I get that on my work too?

    • darkside profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Australia

      Copyright is automatic. It's just a matter of enforcing it.

    • HealthCare Basics profile image

      HealthCare Basics 

      9 years ago from San Diego, California

      Good information DarkSide. Do you copyright your hub work?

    • William F. Torpey profile image

      William F Torpey 

      10 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      Good information, Darkside. Copyright can be a very complicated subject. It's especially important for HubPages' authors. Thanks.

    • monitor profile image


      10 years ago from The world.

      Great topic for hub pages. Well done.

      Your fan


    • Health Conscious profile image

      Health Conscious 

      10 years ago from South Florida - USA

      Great info Darkside,

      Am I correct in remembering that you don't really have to do anything to be protected. Declaring makes it easier to prove time frame of use, which is the reason most put the copyright symbol and date.

    • Trsmd profile image


      10 years ago from India

      Do you have copyright for this?

    • Eileen Hughes profile image

      Eileen Hughes 

      10 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      So true, Actually I believe it protects people who invent things too. They have to register their patent or something. Maybe that is different aspect.

      Good hub Thanks More people should understand what that means and this hub should do that. That way they may stop copying from other people. I suppose we all use other peoples ideas, but that is ok as long as we put our own words and spin on the subject.


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