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The main reference on these matters is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Copyright_FAQ.
What is copyright? Copyright is the right that the producer of a creative work has been granted to prevent others from copying it. Unlike a patent, however, in most countries you don't have to apply for a copyright - you get one automatically every time you produce creative work. A creative work can be almost anything - a book, a song, a picture, a photograph, a poem, a phrase, or a fictional character.
The Berne convention is a comprehensive international agreement on copyrights which is part of the copyright law of many nations, although copyright laws vary between countries.
- In the US, prior to 1978, works were given 28 years of copyright protection, followed by the possibility of 28 more years (56 total), if application for renewal was made during the 28th year of the first term of protection.
- In 1978 the renewal period for works still under copyright was extended to 47 years (75 total), and later an additional 20 years was added to this (making the renewal period 67 years, for a total of 95 years of protection).
- Since 1964, copyright holders have not had to apply for renewal; copyright protection was automatically extended to 75 years, and later 95 years.
- See US Copyright Office Circular 15a for further details on duration of copyright.
- Other documents are available from the U.S. Copyright Office on various aspects of the law.
- Licenses may be granted to others, giving them the right to copy the work subject to certain conditions. A license is similar to a contract - the work may only be copied under the conditions given by the copyright holder or if one of the other exceptions to the copy right applies.
- Copyright does not protect against all possible copying: both U.S. law and the Berne Convention limit its scope and enable much copying without permission even if the copyright holder objects. Also, both the Berne Convention and U.S. law require that a work have some original creativity to be eligible for a copyright monopoly. Feist Publications v. Rural Telephone Service contains some examples of U.S. decisions about what is and isn't original, including examples such as typo correction
- Main article: Copyright law of the United Kingdom
In broad terms the advice is consistent with good acadamic practice:
· Articles should be largely your own work · Any extended quotes should be referenced to the original author · You can import text from public domain sources