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Exclusive right to reproduce, publish, or sell an original work of authorship. It protects from unauthorized copying any published or unpublished work that is fixed in a tangible medium (including a book or manuscript, musical score or recording, script or dramatic production, painting or sculpture, or blueprint or building). It does not protect matters such as an idea, process, or system. Protection in the U.S. now extends for the life of the creator plus 70 years after his or her death. Works made for hire are now protected for a maximum of 95 years from the date of publication or 120 years from the date of the creation of the work. In 1988 the U.S. joined the Bern Convention, an agreement that governs international copyright. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, adopted in the U.S. in 1998, expanded owners' control over digital forms of their creations and penalized persons who sought to evade technological shields (such as encryption) for copyrighted material. See alsointellectual property; patent; trademark.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on copyright, visit Britannica.com.