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What Is a Copyright?

Copyright is, at the most basic level, exactly what the name implies: the right to make copies of something that has been created. Now, it’s important to note that the protection is for the created “thing”—you can’t copyright an idea. The copyright of the created “thing” (which the law tends to call an “expression”) says that the copyright owner is the one who benefits from sales or performances of the work.

In the U.S., the copyright lasts for the lifetime of the author plus 70 years. If the work is created by a company instead of an individual, the copyright lasts 95 years from its publication or 120 years from its creation, whichever is shorter. Any way you look at it, the law says that you get to benefit from the things you create for a long, long time.


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