Monday, May 16, 2011


Last week, we talked about the kinds of works original works of artistic expression fixed in a tangible medium are protected by U.S. copyright.  Today, we'll talk about the nature of the rights authors and artists have under copyright.   Just to clarify, these rights apply to the author or artist, or to another owner of the rights to whom the author or artist has transferred his rights.  The exclusive "economic rights" granted to the copyright owner include the right to do or authorize another to do the following:

(1) Reproduce the copyrighted work;
(2) Prepare works derived from the copyrighted work;
(3) Distribute copies of the copyrighted work to the public;
(4) Publicly perform the work;
(5) Publicly display the work; and
(6) Performing copyrighted sound recordings by means of digital audio transmission.

In addition to these economic rights, the artist of visual art works has certain "moral rights," including the rights:

(1) To claim authorship in the work;
(2) To prevent the use of his name as the creator of any work that he did not in fact create;
(3) To prevent the use of his name as the creator of a work that he did create if it has been distorted, mutilated, or modified in such a way as to harm his honor or reputation; and
(4) To prevent the intentional or negligent destruction  of any of his works that are of recognized importance.

Over time, copyright law has developed to clarify what, exactly, each of these rights actually encompass.  Tomorrow, we'll discuss what is meant by the right to reproduce a copyrighted work.

In the meantime, feel free to email us at if you have any questions, or if you'd like a free copy of our pamphlet discussing copyright law as it effects small businesses and individuals.

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