What is copyright?
Basically, copyright is a guaranteed legal right of the originator of some form of work – be it music, books, movies, videos, web sites, and photos – to publish or duplicate the work or exercise some control over the use of the work. Copyright infringement happens when a copyright owner’s exclusive rights have been violated: if you use someone else’s copyright materials without their permission.
Even if you create a completely new work – a book for example – and you include elements of other copyrighted material such as photos from Canadian National Geographic magazine for example, you need to have permission to do so, or own the rights for use of those photos.
And, remember, just because you’ve purchased a DVD or a CD doesn’t mean that you automatically have the right to copy it or distribute it. Yes, you physically own the disc, but you do not own the copyrights to their content – be it the script, the music, the lyrics, the artwork, etc. The same goes with information found on the Internet – just because it’s there and easily available, doesn’t mean you can use it unconditionally.
For more information on copyrights and protecting intellectual property, we came across the University of Ottawa’s "Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic" and Faircopyright.ca web sites. Both of these sites do not constitute legal advice, nor are they a substitute for a formal legal discussion, nor are Town Crier or its affiliates specifically endorsing them; however, there is some general information on copyright law and the protection of intellectual property that may be of interest.