What is Copyright?

The terms “copyright” and “peer-to-peer network” are often used in connection with online piracy, so it is important to understand what they mean. Here’s a brief video explaining these terms that will help you understand the distinction between legal and illegal file sharing online.

Copyright laws offer legal protection for artists – the individuals who write stories and songs, and the people who create movies, music, video games and other products for a living. These protections provide a set of “rules of the road” for enjoying content – both online and off – enabling artists of all kinds to earn a living and continue to create.

Copyright benefits the public by encouraging the creation of new works of art, books, poems, movies, music and much more. The laws that make up our copyright system provide parameters for sharing and enjoying various types of content and ensure that the original investments of time, resources and ingenuity of the creator are recognized and protected. These laws give the owners of the works a limited time to exclusively use the work. They also provide “safety valves” (such as the fair use doctrine) to permit certain uses without the owner’s authorization.

The United States Copyright Office has some great general resources on what copyright is and why it’s important: http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf

The Copyright Office also has resources that are geared towards students and teachers as well: http://www.copyright.gov/students_teachers/

Another great resource on the history of copyright and what it means to artists is the Copyright Alliance: http://www.copyrightalliance.org/

Finally, CCI has partnered with iKeepSafe to create a copyright curriculum. It is initially being created for use in the California public school system, but we hope it will be adopted by schools across the country. Click here to see what’s to come.