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Subject of Copyright

Copyright law protects “original works of authorship”. To produce something, it does not always take hard work only. You need to engage a certain portion of creativity as well. There is no need for the work to be the first of its kind, e.g. a novel simply needs to be the independent product of the author and not copied from some external source. Copyright does not protect against independent creation of similar or even identical works.

There are some items that are excluded from copyright protection. Section 102(b) of the US Copyright Act states,

In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work.

A number of court decisions illustrate how such limitations relate to computer software, interfaces, the “look and feel” of a program…

Copyright is held by the author upon the creation of his/her work and its “fixation” in a tangible form, so that it can be percieved directly or with the help of some device.

If the work is created by a group, the copyright may be held jointly. An independent contractor may hold the copyright in a work made for someone else if there is no express agreement to the contrary. However, an employer will be the owner of a work created by an employee within the scope of employment.

If you are seeking to build Internet sites with the help of other people, you should be sure to acquire the rights to the materials that are the basis for the web site. Otherwise, you may face serious issues down the road.

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