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Copyright is the set of exclusive rights granted to the author or creator of an original work, including the right to copy, distribute and adapt the work. These rights can be licensed, transferred and/or assigned. Copyright lasts for a certain time period after which the work is said to enter the public domain. Copyright applies to a wide range of works that are substantive and fixed in a medium. Some jurisdictions also recognize "moral rights" of the creator of a work, such as the right to be credited for the work.

The Statute of Anne 1709, full title "An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, by vesting the Copies of Printed Books in the Authors or purchasers of such Copies, during the Times therein mentioned", is now seen as the origin of copyright law.[1] Since the 19th Century copyright is described under the umbrella term intellectual property along with patents and trademarks.

Copyright has been internationally standardized, lasting between fifty and one hundred years from the author's death, or a shorter period for anonymous or corporate authorship. Generally, copyright is enforced as a civil matter, though some jurisdictions do apply criminal sanctions.


  1. Brad, Sherman; Lionel Bently (1999). The making of modern intellectual property law: the British experience, 1760-1911. Cambridge University Press, 207. ISBN 9780521563635. 
Part of this article consists of modified text from Wikipedia, and the article is therefore licensed under GFDL.
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