"Why Copyright Matters: "Information is everything. It points the way to advances in science and medicine, innovations in business and technology and achievements in education and the arts. The cost of research, writing and editing is substantial and the efforts often Herculean. Some books are the result of years of individual effort; others are the product of ground-breaking collaboration. Either way, without the protections guaranteed by our copyright laws, many of the works we enjoy and rely upon today would never exist." (from the Copyright Clearance Center)
Copyright law, as defined in Title 17 of the United States Code, protects "original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression" for a limited period. Copyright protection includes, for instance, the legal right to publish and sell literary, artistic, or musical work, and copyright protects authors, publishers and producers, and the public. Copyright applies both to traditional media (books, records, etc.) and to digital media (electronic journals, web sites, etc.). Copyright protects the following eight categories of works:
Ownership of a copyrighted work includes the right to control the use of that work. Use of such work by others during the term of the copyright requires either permission from the author or reliance on the doctrine of fair use. Failure to do one or the other will expose the user to a claim of copyright infringement for which the law provides remedies including payment of money damages to the copyright owner.