Copyright Overview: Ownership
Copyright exists as soon as works are put into a fixed form - written down on the page, or drawn, or coded, or sculpted. Copyright lasts for the lifetime of the author, plus 70 years.
So if you drew a picture today, you would own the copyright until your death, and your estate would hold the copyright for 70 years after your death.
You, or your estate, would have the sole right to
- Reproduce the work
- Prepare derivative works based upon the work
- Distribute copies of the work
- Display the work
- Perform the work publicly
This right is limited by Fair Use. (We'll talk about that later.) Outside of Fair use, the owner of copyrighted material must give permission for anyone to use the material. It is an infringement of their rights to use materials without doing so. The penalties for infringement can be substantial.
Next, we'll look at what copyright covers.