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Nature and extent of copyright protection

This article is part of a series on Intellectual Property and its impact on innovators and entrepreneurs.

ip-and-startupsNow that you have created the be–all and end–all of source codes and written it down (somewhere safe we hope); and you know that your copyright exists automatically so congratulations; you are now a copyright holder…now what does it mean to be a copyright holder?

To start off; copyright protection generally lasts for a period of fifty years from the date of creation of a protected work. During these fifty years; the copyright holder has the right to deal with the copyrighted work in the following ways:

Firstly; the copyright owner is given the right to make copies of the work on a commercial scale. Of course this right would be meaningless if it were not accompanied by the right to sell the work; after all the owner is not running a charitable enterprise. The owner therefore has the right to sell or rent out copies of their work; and to import or export copies of the copyrighted work on a commercial scale.

They also have the right to make their work available on the Internet and to allow it to be broadcast on TV, radio and other media. Lastly; the owner has the right to make adaptations of the work.

More importantly, please note, what the owner can do; he can also allow others to do the same. The owner of the copyright is given the right to allow others to exercise any of their rights in the copyrighted work; which is done mostly through granting a licence or by transferring their copyright to someone else through a legal method known as assignment.

The author can enforce all these rights in a court of law should anyone who is not the copyright holder exercise any of the owner’s prerogatives. There is no excuse then that copyright owners should not enforce their rights, it would be good to see a bit of action in our court rooms, after all we have to develop our local laws further and create the judgments on the subject for future reference.

In the next article I will discuss the issue of copyright infringement.

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3 thoughts on “Nature and extent of copyright protection

  1. If you release software, please release it under the GPL, not under a proprietary, restrictive closed source license.

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