The Purpose and Intent of Copyright LawIn the U.S., the purpose of copyright protection is not mere protection of the property rights of an author, the fundamental purpose is the public interest in access to knowledge:
Congress shall have the power...to promote the progress of science and the useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries. U.S. Const., Art I, Sec. 8(8).Authors are given these legal rights to encourage them to produce the writings and discoveries so copying someone else's material, regardless of whether it's only one page from a Web site, indicates a basic misunderstanding not only about the cooperative spirit of the Web, but a basic misunderstanding about the purpose and value of U.S. copyright law, itself.
Copyright Basics and History (Video)
Attorney Marie Breaux talks about the history of authors' rights and argues that copyright law will likely need to be revised due to the creation of Creative Commons and other platforms. The focus is on Copyright for Writers, but the video also provides basic info for non-writers as well. CSPAN BookTV video, 1:22 min. Recorded In New Orleans, Louisiana, 3/20/14.
Berne Convention Implementation Act
The International Agreement which the U.S. signed in 1989 which declares that a work is copyrighted regardless of whether it's registered with the Copyright Office, or whether or not a copyright notice is displayed anywhere on the work.
Overview of the On-Line Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act details the portion of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act which, in certain instances, decreases liabilities of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who otherwise risk liability for contributory copyright infringement based upon the conduct of their customers or other third parties. (Full text of the DMCA is available in PDF format from the U.S. Copyright Office.
Copyright Basics includes a section about who can claim copyright:
Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created in fixed form that is, it is an incident of the process of authorship. The copyright in the work of authorship IMMEDIATELY becomes the property of the author who created it. Only the author or those deriving their rights through the author can rightfully claim copyright.The US Copyright Act
Ownership, possession or any other attachment to or relationship with a copy of a copyrighted work (including obtaining access to it through a computer network or other service) does not entitle one to exercise any of the exclusive rights of the copyright owner (e.g., to reproduce it or to perform it publicly).U.S. Copyright Office
Section 204 addresses Transfers of Copyright Ownership
With the exception of transfers by operation of law, all transfers of copyright ownership must be in writing. 17 U.S.C. § 204(a) "A transfer of copyright ownership, other than by operation of law, is not valid unless an instrument of conveyance, or a note or memorandum of the transfer, is in writing and signed by the owner of the rights conveyed or such owner's duly authorized agent."
Copyright Term Extension Act
Alternatively known as the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act or pejoratively as the Mickey Mouse Protection Act, the legislation extended copyright terms in the United States by 20 years. Before the act (under the Copyright Act of 1976), copyright would last for the life of the author plus 50 years, or 75 years for a work of corporate authorship; the act extended these terms to life of the author plus 70 years and 95 years respectively. The act also affected copyright terms for copyrighted works published prior to January 1, 1978, increasing their term of protection by 20 years as well.Cornell University's Copyright Protection Chart
Chart displays copyright term and the public domain in the United States.Cyberspace Law for Non-Lawyers
International Copyright Resources
The United States Patent and Trademark Office
Patent, Trademark and Copyright Info and Examples on the National Paralegal College website