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See also: Legal Analysis, Intellectual Property, Fair Use, DMCA, Cease & Desist, Creative Commons, Piracy
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Copyright is a term that refers to the set of exclusive rights granted to a creator of an original work.

Copyright applies to a wide variety of creative works including literary works, film, musical works, artistic works and many other kinds of Intellectual Property. Copyright holders (the original creator and their heirs) may sell or license certain rights, thereby authorizing others to broadcast or distribute a work. Copyright applies to the expression of an idea, never the idea itself.[1]

Copyright is time-limited, by varying lengths depending on the type of work and the jurisdiction. Once the copyright has expired, a work is considered to be part of the Public Domain.[2]

Copyright also varies from country to country - something that is Public Domain in one country may not be in another.

Fans on Copyright

For more information about fanworks and how copyright affects them, see Legal Analysis. The Organization for Transformative Works also have more information. Fanvids are also affected by the DMCA if they need to rip from DVD.

Fans have traditionally suffered from Cease & Desist notices. A more recent development has been Creative Commons licenses which support remixing and fanworks. Some professional authors have different fanfic policies, though these may vary in their legal effect.

Some Random Fannish Reaction

  • "Note to contributors: the copyright symbol with your name and date copyrights your work in your name. I don't bother to register copyrights; If you want to, get a Bowker Handbook from the library and go to it." [3]

Further Reading/Meta


  1. WIPO General Information on Copyright, accessed May 6, 2010
  2. Wikipedia:Copyright#Public_domain
  3. from the editor in R & R #16, 1981