Glossary of copyright terms and concepts
Some of the items below are excerpted from the Copyright Law, Title 17, U.S. Code, and are cited as "US Code". See http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#101.
An "anonymous work" is a work on the copies or phonorecords of which no natural person is identified as author. (US Code)
An "architectural work" is the design of a building as embodied in any tangible medium of expression, including a building, architectural plans, or drawings. The work includes the overall form as well as the arrangement and composition of spaces and elements in the design, but does not include individual standard features. (US Code)
"Audiovisual works" are works that consist of a series of related images which are intrinsically intended to be shown by the use of machines or devices such as projectors, viewers, or electronic equipment, together with accompanying sounds, if any, regardless of the nature of the material objects, such as films or tapes, in which the works are embodied. (US Code)
A "collective work" is a work, such as a periodical issue, anthology, or encyclopedia, in which a number of contributions, constituting separate and independent works in themselves, are assembled into a collective whole. (US Code)
A "compilation" is a work formed by the collection and assembling of preexisting materials or of data that are selected, coordinated, or arranged in such a way that the resulting work as a whole constitutes an original work of authorship. The term "compilation" includes collective works. (US Code)
A "computer program" is a set of statements or instructions to be used directly or indirectly in a computer in order to bring about a certain result. (US Code)
"Copies" are material objects, other than phonorecords, in which a work is fixed by any method now known or later developed, and from which the work can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. The term "copies" includes the material object, other than a phonorecord, in which the work is first fixed. (US Code)
Copyright (See also "Intellectual Property")
Copyright is a bundle of exclusive rights granted to the owner (which may or may not be the creator) of an original work of authorship for a limited period of time during which the owner of the copyright may use these rights to maintain literary, artistic and commercial control of their intellectual property. The following types of works may be protected by copyright: literary works, musical works, dramatic works, pantomimes and choreographic works, pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works, motion pictures and other audiovisual works, sound recordings and architectural works. Copyright cannot protect ideas, procedures, processes, systems, methods of operation, concepts, principles or discoveries although some of these may be protected under patents or trademarks. The exclusive rights granted the copyright owner include: the right to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords, the right to prepare derivative works, the right to distribute copies by sale, transfer, rental or lending, to perform the work publicly, to display the work publicly and in the case of sound recordings to perform the work publicly by means of a digital transmission. These exclusive rights are limited by fair use.
"Copyright owner", with respect to any one of the exclusive rights comprised in a copyright, refers to the owner of that particular right. (US Code) [NB: the exclusive rights granted by copyright may be sold outright or licensed individually on an exclusive or non-exclusive basis permanently or for a limited period of time.]
A work is "created" when it is fixed in a copy or phonorecord for the first time; where a work is prepared over a period of time, the portion of it that has been fixed at any particular time constitutes the work as of that time, and where the work has been prepared in different versions, each version constitutes a separate work. (US Code)
A "derivative work" is a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications, which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a "derivative work". (US Code)
A "digital transmission" is a transmission in whole or in part in a digital or other non-analog format. (US Code)
To "display" a work means to show a copy of it, either directly or by means of a film, slide, television image, or any other device or process or, in the case of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to show individual images nonsequentially. (US Code)
Fair use limits the exclusive rights of copyright owners and gives the user rights to reproduce in copies or phonorecords for "purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research." (US Code) This is NOT an infringement. However, four factors must always be considered in determining fair use: "the purpose and character of use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; the nature of the copyrighted work; the amount an substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work." (US Code)
A work is "fixed" in a tangible medium of expression when its embodiment in a copy or phonorecord, by or under the authority of the author, is sufficiently permanent or stable to permit it to be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated for a period of more than transitory duration. A work consisting of sounds, images, or both, that are being transmitted, is "fixed" for purposes of this title if a fixation of the work is being made simultaneously with its transmission. (US Code)
Another limitation on the exclusive rights of the copyright owner is the so called "First Sale Doctrine." According to section 109: "...the owner of a particular copy or phonorecord lawfully made under this title, or any person authorized by such owner, is entitled, without the authority of the copyright owner, to sell or other wise dispose of the possession of that copy or phonorecord." (US Code)
Grand rights are the rights to perform in whole or in part, dramtico-musical and dramatic works in a dramatic setting.
Intellectual property is often referred to as intangible property, i.e., mental or creative work. The law protects originators of literary works, musical works, art works, inventions, etc. in order to promote creativity. These works are called intellectual property and the creators become the owners of such works and can reap monetary benefits as well as hold exclusive rights for a period of time. Intellectual property is the broad term for property governed by copyright, trademarks, patents, and trade secrets.
A "joint work" is a work prepared by two or more authors with the intention that their contributions be merged into inseparable or interdependent parts of a unitary whole. (US Code)
"Literary works" are works, other than audiovisual works, expressed in words, numbers, or other verbal or numerical symbols or indicia, regardless of the nature of the material objects, such as books, periodicals, manuscripts, phonorecords, film, tapes, disks, or cards, in which they are embodied. (US Code)
"Motion pictures" are audiovisual works consisting of a series of related images which, when shown in succession, impart an impression of motion, together with accompanying sounds, if any. (US Code)
Non-Commercial and Non-Profit
Non-commercial refers to copying which is for personal use rather than for the purpose of buying or selling the copies. A non-commercial use would be for educational purposes so long as there is no profit or earnings involved. Similarly non-profit refers to no intention of earning a margin over cost, e.g., any gain is used for costs. Educational institutions are often non-profit organizations. Not all uses of copyright material at an educational institution are non-profit. e.g. live performances of plays, musicals, popular music for which tickets are sold are not non-profit and are accordingly licensed respectively with dramatic publishers and performing rights societies.
To "perform" a work means to recite, render, play, dance, or act it, either directly or by means of any device or process or, in the case of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to show its images in any sequence or to make the sounds accompanying it audible. (US Code)
Performing Rights Society
A "performing rights society" is an association, corporation, or other entity that licenses the public performance of nondramatic musical works on behalf of copyright owners of such works, such as the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), and SESAC, Inc. (US Code) [NB: Brown maintains licenses with all three of the societies listed here]
Phonorecords (see also "Sound Recordings")
"Phonorecords" are material objects in which sounds, other than those accompanying a motion picture or other audiovisual work, are fixed by any method now known or later developed, and from which the sounds can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. The term "phonorecords" includes the material object in which the sounds are first fixed. (US Code)
Pictorial, graphic and sculptural works
"Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works" include two-dimensional and three-dimensional works of fine, graphic, and applied art, photographs, prints and art reproductions, maps, globes, charts, diagrams, models, and technical drawings, including architectural plans. Such works shall include works of artistic craftsmanship insofar as their form but not their mechanical or utilitarian aspects are concerned; the design of a useful article, as defined in this section, shall be considered a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work only if, and only to the extent that, such design incorporates pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features that can be identified separately from, and are capable of existing independently of, the utilitarian aspects of the article. (US Code)
A "pseudonymous work" is a work on the copies or phonorecords of which the author is identified under a fictitious name. (US Code)
Public domain describes works that either cannot be copyrighted, or works for which copyright protection has expired. Works in the public domain can be used without restriction. Any work registered for copyright before Jan. 1, 1923 is in the public domain in the U.S. Because of recent extensions of the duration of copyright, no currently registered works will enter the public domain before Jan. 1, 2019.
"Publication" is the distribution of copies or phonorecords of a work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending. The offering to distribute copies or phonorecords to a group of persons for purposes of further distribution, public performance, or public display, constitutes publication. A public performance or display of a work does not of itself constitute publication. (US Code)
Public performance or display
To perform or display a work "publicly" means -
(1) to perform or display it at a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered; or
(2) to transmit or otherwise communicate a performance or display of the work to a place specified by clause (1) or to the public, by means of any device or process, whether the members of the public capable of receiving the performance or display receive it in the same place or in separate places and at the same time or at different times. (US Code)
"Registration", for purposes of sections 205(c)(2), 405, 406, 410(d), 411, 412, and 506(e), means a registration of a claim in the original or the renewed and extended term of copyright. (US Code)
Sound Recordings (see also "Phonorecords")
"Sound recordings" are works that result from the fixation of a series of musical, spoken, or other sounds, but not including the sounds accompanying a motion picture or other audiovisual work, regardless of the nature of the material objects, such as disks, tapes, or other phonorecords, in which they are embodied. (US Code)
Streaming is a term describing a particular type of digital transmission of audio or video files. With streamed files, the server sends to the receiving workstation only parts of the file. Once a sufficient amount has been received (buffered), the workstation using a client such as RealPlayer(tm), Quicktime(tm) or Windows Media Player(tm) plays the audio or video file without interruption.
To "transmit" a performance or display is to communicate it by any device or process whereby images or sounds are received beyond the place from which they are sent. (US Code)
Work of Visual Art (see also "Pictorial, graphic and scultural works")
A "work of visual art" is -
(1) a painting, drawing, print or sculpture, existing in a single copy, in a limited edition of 200 copies or fewer that are signed and consecutively numbered by the author, or, in the case of a sculpture, in multiple cast, carved, or fabricated sculptures of 200 or fewer that are consecutively numbered by the author and bear the signature or other identifying mark of the author; or
(2) a still photographic image produced for exhibition purposes only, existing in a single copy that is signed by the author, or in a limited edition of 200 copies or fewer that are signed and consecutively numbered by the author.
A work of visual art does not include -
(A)(i) any poster, map, globe, chart, technical drawing, diagram, model, applied art, motion picture or other audiovisual work, book, magazine, newspaper, periodical, data base, electronic information service, electronic publication, or similar publication;
(ii) any merchandising item or advertising, promotional, descriptive, covering, or packaging material or container;
(iii) any portion or part of any item described in clause (i) or (ii);
(B) any work made for hire; or
(C) any work not subject to copyright protection under this title. (US Code)
Work of the United States Government
A "work of the United States Government" is a work prepared by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person's official duties. (US Code)
Work made for hire
A "work made for hire" is -
(1) a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment; or
(2) a work specially ordered or commissioned for use as a contribution to a collective work, as a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, as a translation, as a supplementary work, as a compilation, as an instructional text, as a test, as answer material for a test, or as an atlas, if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire. For the purpose of the foregoing sentence, a "supplementary work" is a work prepared for publication as a secondary adjunct to a work by another author for the purpose of introducing, concluding, illustrating, explaining, revising, commenting upon, or assisting in the use of the other work, such as forewords, afterwords, pictorial illustrations, maps, charts, tables, editorial notes, musical arrangements, answer material for tests, bibliographies, appendixes, and indexes, and an "instructional text" is a literary, pictorial, or graphic work prepared for publication and with the purpose of use in systematic instructional activities.
In determining whether any work is eligible to be considered a work made for hire under paragraph (2), neither the amendment contained in section 1011(d) of the Intellectual Property and Communications Omnibus Reform Act of 1999, as enacted by section 1000(a)(9) of Public Law 106-113, nor the deletion of the words added by that amendment -
Some additional links
(A) shall be considered or otherwise given any legal significance, or
(B) shall be interpreted to indicate congressional approval or disapproval of, or acquiescence in, any judicial determination,
by the courts or the Copyright Office. Paragraph (2) shall be interpreted as if both section 2(a)(1) of the Work Made For Hire and Copyright Corrections Act of 2000 and section 1011(d) of the Intellectual Property and Communications Omnibus Reform Act of 1999, as enacted by section 1000(a)(9) of Public Law 106-113, were never enacted, and without regard to any inaction or awareness by the Congress at any time of any judicial determinations. (US Code)
Glossary from Cornell
UK Patent Office Glossary
US Copyright Office FAQ and Definitions