According to the U.S. Copyright Office, a copyright is a protection provided to authors of original written works. This can include literary works as well as musical, dramatic and artistic creations. It ensures that authors maintain complete control over their creations when they wish to do so. While the law previously only applied to published works, the law now also includes protections for unpublished works.
The major protections included in copyright law are clearly defined. Authors must have the ability to reproduce their works, prepare additional works based off of the original, and sell and distribute their copies through whatever means they deem appropriate. They are also granted the ability to publicly display and perform their creations as they see fit. Copyright infringement occurs when anyone impedes an author’s ability to perform these basic rights. This often occurs when a person uses a protected work without the express permission of the author, either written or implied. It can also occur when other authors attempt to title, sell or use all or part of a copyright-protected work as their own creations.
Federal copyright law states that when someone violates a copyright protection, they can be held legally and financially responsible for the infringement. The author of the original work can request an injunction from the court, prohibiting the further infringing acts of the offending party. Additionally, the courts may also issue an order for the collection and destruction of all material deemed to be in violation of the law. If authors are successful in proving their claims, they may be granted damages, including legal fees, as well as profits the offending party received due to their illegal acts.