Under the United States, Copyright Act found at Title 17 of the U.S. Code, creators of original materials are granted exclusive rights, generally referred to as the creator's "copyrights."
U.S. copyright law is derived from specific language in the Constitution and exists to foster creativity and spur the distribution of new and original works.
Copyright secured and protection exists from when the work is created in a fixed, tangible form of expression. The copyright in the work of authorship immediately and becomes the property of the author who created the work. Only the author, or those deriving their rights through the author, can rightfully claim copyright. In the case of works made for hire, the employer, not the writer, is considered the author. The Author can assign the right to a publisher.
Copyright protects original works of authorship that are fixed in a tangible form of expression. The fixation need not be directly perceptible so long as it may be communicated with the aid of a machine or device. Copyrightable works include the following categories: literary works, musical works, including any accompanying words. Dramatic works, including any accompanying music, pantomimes and choreographic works, pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works, motion pictures and other audiovisual works, sound recordings, architectural works, to name a few. These categories should be viewed broadly. For example, computer programs and most compilations may be registered as literary works; maps and architectural plans may be registered as pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works.
The use of a copyright notice is no longer required under U.S. law, although it is often beneficial. Because prior law did contain such a requirement, however, the use of notice is still relevant to the copyright status of older works before 1976. Therefore, even if a book or work does not specifically state copyright, is it still copyrighted as stated in the United States Copyright Act.
One of the rights exclusive to copyright holders (rights holders) is the right to reproduce their works (e.g., photocopies, posts to Web sites, etc.). Copyright holders also have the right to prepare derivative works, to distribute copies for sale, and to perform the work publicly, as in the case of motion pictures, videos, and plays.
Many times a disgruntled employee at a particular company reports the unlawful use of content to the publisher. Sometimes it is a purchaser of the work or book who does not like someone getting it cheaper than they had to pay. Many publications place "whistleblower" or "bounty" ads in their publications that highlight the issue of copyright infringement and offer cash payments for reporting illegal activity.
If you would like to reuse copyrighted material in print and digital formats, you must first obtain permission from the rights holder. You can either contact the owners of the copyrighted materials directly or obtain permission from a licensing representative such as a publisher or, in this case, Biodiesel Basics.
The Copyright Act provides for the copyright owner to recover damages for unauthorized use of the owners works. These damages may include the profits resulting from the infringement, or statutory damages ranging from $250 to $150,000 per willful infringement, as well as legal fees.
Is content found on the Internet considered to be in the public domain and, therefore, not copyright-protected?
No. The legal concept of the public domain as it applies to copyright law should not be confused because work may be publicly available, such as information found in books or periodicals, or on the Internet. The public domain comprises all those works that are either no longer protected by copyright or never were. Any content in a non-digital form that is protected by copyright will be protected in a digital form. For example, print books are protected by copyright, as are electronic books. Analog musical recordings are protected by copyright, as are digital musical recordings. A print letter is protected by copyright, as is an e-mail letter (both generally owned by the author of that letter or e-mail). Web sites may be protected by copyright as a single work, and also the many different embedded works that are in that Web site may be individually protected by copyright.