Copyright Definitions

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access  The reasonable opportunity of the defendant to view or hear the copyrighted work

actual damages  The plaintiff's provable monetary damages resulting from the infringing acts.

anonymous A work written by an author who is not identified on the copies of the work.

answer A written response to the complaint in which the defendant admits or denies the allegations and provides a list of defenses.

architectural work  The design of a building as embodied in any tangible medium of expression, including a building, architectural plans, or drawings; it includes the overall form as well as the arrangement and composition of spaces and elements in the design, but does not include individual standard features.

audiovisual works   Works that consist of a series of related images which are intrinsically intended to be shown by the use of machines or devices such as projectors, viewers, or electronic equipment, together with accompanying sounds, if any, regardless of the nature of the material objects, such as films or tapes, in which the works are embodied.

author The creator of a copyrightable expression, whether literary, musical or otherwise; or under other circumstances, the party that commissions a work or pays for the work under an employment agreement.

automated database  a body of facts, data, or other information assembled into an organized format suitable for use in a computer and comprising one or more files.

basic registration The primary copyright record made for each version of a particular work.

best edition  The edition of a work that the Library of Congress determines to be most suitable for its purposes.

browser a software program that allows a person to view the worldwide web

bulletin board service or usenet  similar to an online service, except that it has a specialized purpose, (.e.g, only for fans of the Gong Show).

cease and desist letter Correspondence from owner of proprietary work that informs the infringing party of the validity and ownership of the proprietary work, the nature of the infringement, remedies that are available to the owner and that requests the cessation of all infringing activity.

children  A person's immediate offspring, whether legitimate  or not, and any children legally adopted by that person.

choreography   Composition and arrangement of dance movements.

civil cover sheet  A form required at the time of filing of the complaint for use by the court in maintaining certain statistical records.

coin operated phonorecord player  A machine or device employed solely for the performance of nondramatic musical works by means of phonorecords and upon insertion of coins or currency (or their equivalent); in order to qualify for compulsory license, such device must meet requirements of 17 U.S.C. 116.

collaboration agreement  A contract in which joint authors specify the rights, obligations, percentage of copyright ownership and revenues attributable to each author.

collective work  A work, such as a periodical issue, anthology, or encyclopedia, in which a number of contributions, constituting separate and independent works in themselves, are assembled into a collective whole.

common law  A system of legal rules derived from the precedents and principles established by court decisions.

common law copyright   A system of protection based upon the precedents and principles established by court decisions;  affects unpublished, unregistered works created before January 1, 1978; applied by state courts or federal courts interpreting state law.

compilation A work formed by the collection and assembling of preexisting materials or of data that are selected, coordinated, or arranged in such a way that the resulting work as a whole constitutes an original work of authorship. The term "compilation" includes collective works.

complaint  The initial document filed in a lawsuit. It sets forth the basis of the plaintiff's claims and requests certain remedies.

complete copy All elements comprising the unit of publication of the best edition of the work, including elements that, if considered separately, would not be copyrightable subject matter or would otherwise be exempt from mandatory deposit requirements.

compulsory license  A system established by statute that permits the use of copyrighted works under certain circumstances and provided that certain fixed fees are paid.

computer  a machine that processes digital information. A computer usually includes three components: a monitor or some other method of viewing information, a device such as a keyboard or mouse to input data; and a central processing unit that includes a system for storing information such as a floppy or hard disk. The machine components of a computer (disk drive, keyboard, etc.) are referred to as hardware.

computer program   A set of statements or instructions to be used directly or indirectly in a computer in order to bring about a certain result.

contributory infringer One who, with knowledge or reason to know of infringing activity of another, induces, causes or materially contributes to the infringement; or one who has the right and ability to supervise the infringing activities and also has a direct financial interest in such activities; also known as a vicarious infringer.

copies   Tangible object (other than phonorecord) in which a work is fixed by any method now known or later developed, and from which the work can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device; the term copies includes the tangible object (other than a phonorecord) in which the work is first fixed.

copyright  The legal right to exclude others for a limited time from copying, selling performing or making derivative versions of a work of authorship.

counterclaim   A claim for relief usually asserted by the defendant against an opposing party, usually the plaintiff.

created  When a work is fixed in a copy or phonorecord for the first time; where a work is prepared over a period of time, the portion of it that has been fixed at any particular time constitutes the work as of that time, and where the work has been prepared in different versions, each version constitutes a separate work.

declaratory relief  request that the court sort out the rights and legal obligations of the parties in the midst of an actual controversy.

deposition  Oral or written testimony of a party or witness and given under oath.

derivative work  A work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications that, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is also a derivative work.

design patent  Lgal protection granted for a new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture; protects only the appearance of an article and not its structure or utilitarian features.

digital transmission A transmission in whole or in part in a digital or other non-analog format.

display publicly  To show a copy of a work, either directly or by means of a film, slide, television image, or any other device or process where the public is gathered or the work is transmitted or otherwise communicated to the public; in the case of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, the nonsequential showing of individual images.

dramatic works   Narrative presentations (and any accompanying music) that generally use dialogue and stage directions as the basis for a theatrical exhibition.

ephemeral recordings  Copies or phonorecords of works that are made for purposes of later transmission.

establishment  A store, shop, or any similar place of business open to the general public for the primary purpose of selling goods or services in which the majority of the gross square feet of space that is nonresidential is used for that purpose, and in which nondramatic musical works are performed publicly.

estoppel A defense to infringement in which the defendant prevents the plaintiff from contradicting behavior upon which the defendant has justifiably relied. In order to assert successfully an estoppel defense the plaintiff must know the facts of the defendant's conduct and the defendant must have a justifiable belief that the infringing conduct is permitted.

estoppel A defense to infringement in which the defendant prevents the plaintiff from contradicting behavior upon which the defendant has justifiably relied.

exclusive jurisdiction  A court has the sole authority to hear a certain type of case.

exclusive license  an agreement to restrict the grant of proprietary rights to one person.

extended renewal term  an extension of the renewal term from 28 to 47 years for works registered under the Copyright Act of 1909 that were in their renewal term on January 1, 1978, or that were renewed after January 1, 1978.

fair use  right to use copyrighted material for limited purposes and without authorization of the author; determined by federal court after weighing several  factors including: purpose and character of the use, amount and substantiality of portion borrowed, and effect of the use on the market for the copyrighted material.

financial gain Receipt, or expectation of receipt, of anything of value, including the receipt of other copyrighted works.

first sale doctrine - Right of the owner of a lawfully made copy or phonorecord to sell or otherwise dispose of posession of that copy or phonorecord without the authority of the copyright owner.

fixed Embodiment of a work in a tangible medium of expression by or under the authority of the author, which is sufficiently permanent or stable to permit it to be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated for a period of more than transitory duration;  in the case of sounds, images, or both, that are being transmitted, a work is "fixed" if a fixation of the work is being made simultaneously with its transmission.

food service (or drinking establishment) A restaurant, inn, bar, tavern, or any other similar place of business in which the public or patrons assemble for  the primary purpose of being served food or drink, in which the majority of the  gross square feet of space that is nonresidential is used for that purpose, and  in which nondramatic musical works are performed publicly.

freeware Copyrighted software that is made available to the public for free.

gross square feet of space of an establishment The entire interior space of that establishment, and any adjoining outdoor space used to serve patrons, whether on a seasonal basis or otherwise.

infringement  The unauthorized use of a work protected by copyright; occurs when a party with access to a copyrighted work, creates a substantially similar work without permission of the copyright owner and in violation of copyright laws.

injunction  A court order directing the defendant to stop certain activities.

instructional text is a literary, pictorial, or graphic work prepared for use in day‑to‑day instructional activities. For example, a textbook would be an instructional text, but a novel used in a literature class would not be an instructional text.

intellectual property Any product of the human mind which is protected under law.

Internet  a worldwide network of computers connected by phone lines. The Internet is customized to allow users to see images and text in a graphical environment known as the worldwide web. A computer user with a modem, browser and online access can access different locations (or web sites) by typing in the name of the site (the “domain name” which is usually prefaced with the letters http://www). Anyone can own or establish a web site by making an arrangement with an online service. When an Internet user visits a web site, the user is actually viewing the contents of another person or company’s computer.

Internet Service Provider (ISP) a company or institution that provides access to the Internet (for example, America Online or the Microsoft Network).

interrogatories  written questions that must be answered under oath.

joint work   a work prepared by two or more authors with the intention that their contributions will be merged into inseparable or interdependent parts of a unitary whole.

judgment The relief awarded by the court as the result of the judge or jury's verdict.

jury instructions  Explanations of the legal rules that the jury shall use in reaching a verdict.

laches  A defense to infringement in which the defendant argues that the plaintiff's delay in bringing the lawsuit is so unreasonable that the plaintiff should be barred from proceeding.

laches A defense to infringement in which the defendant argues that the plaintiff's delay in bringing the lawsuit is so unreasonable that the plaintiff should be barred from proceeding.

lay observer  A test for copyringht infringement in which a court asks, "Would the ordinary observer, when examining both works, consider that the defendant has misappropriated the plaintiff's work?"

license a contract that grants rights or permission to do something subject to certain conditions

licensee. Person acquiring rights under the license.

licensor. Person granting rights, usually the author.

literary works   Works, other than audiovisual works, expressed in words, numbers, or other verbal or numerical symbols or indicia, regardless of the nature of the material objects, such as books, periodicals, manuscripts, phonorecords, film, tapes, disks, or cards, in which they are embodied.

mechanical right  The right to reproduce a musical work on phonorecords.

merger doctrine When an idea is incapable of being expressed in more than one way, then the idea and expression are inseperable and it is not an infringement to copy it.

moral rights   Rights that protect the professional honor and reputation of an artist by guaranteeing the right to claim or disclaim authorship of a work and the right to prevent, in certain cases, distortion, mutilation or other modification of the work.

motion A request for an order of the court.

motion for summary judgment  A request that the court order a judgment without having a trial because there is no genuine issue as to any material facts.

motion in limine A request made to the court, usually prior to trial, that certain information not be presented to the jury.

motion picture   Audiovisual works consisting of a series of related images that, when shown in succession, impart an impression of motion, together with accompanying sounds, if any.

multimedia work  A work that combines authorship in two or more media.

multiple file database A collection of separate and distinct groups of data records

music publisher A company that has acquired a copyright interest in a musical composition and collects revenue, handles business formalities, sues infringers and looks for new ways to exploit the composition.

musical work   A composition incorporating melody, rhythm and harmonic elements (and accompanying lyrics, if any.)

network  when computers are connected to other computers by cables or phone lines and information can be exchanged. Computers are often networked in offices and businesses. The term intranet refers to a network within a business. Only employees of the business or persons with a special code have access to an intranet.

owner of copyright  person or persons holding title to  copyright; either the author or any party to whom the author has licensed or transferred a right under copyright.

pantomime    A form of theater expressed by gestures but without words.

patent  The legal right to exclude others from using, selling or making invention or discovery for a limited term.

pendent jurisdiction   The authority of the federal courts to hear a matter normally within the jurisdiction of state courts; exists where that matter is combined with a claim that is within the authority of the federal courts.

perform publicly   To recite, render, play, dance, or act a work, either directly or by means of any device or process where the public is gathered or the work is transmitted or otherwise communicated to the public; in the case of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to show its images in any sequence or to make the sounds accompanying it audible.

performing rights society  An association or corporation that licenses the public performance of nondramatic musical works on behalf of the copyright owners.

permanent injunction A durable injunction issued after a final judgment on the merits of the case; permanently restrains the defendant from engaging in the infringing activity.

phonorecords  Material objects in which sounds, other than those accompanying a motion picture or other audiovisual work, are fixed by any method now known or later developed, and from which the sounds can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. The term phonorecords includes the material object in which the sounds are first fixed.

pictorial, graphic and sculptural works   Two‑dimensional and three‑dimensional works of fine, graphic, and applied art, photographs, prints and art reproductions, maps, globes, charts, diagrams, models, and technical drawings, including architectural plans;  such works include works of artistic craftsmanship insofar as their form but not their mechanical or utilitarian aspects are concerned; the design of a useful article, as defined in this section, shall be considered a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work only if, and only to the extent that, such design incorporates pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features that can be identified separately from, and are capable of existing independently of, the utilitarian aspects of the article.

posting the placing of a program or work on a computer so that others can download (or copy) it.

preemption   The authority of the federal government to preclude the states from exercising powers granted to the federal government pursuant to the Constitution.

preliminary injunction  An injunction granted after a noticed hearing where the parties have an opportunity to present evidence as to the likelihood of plaintiff's success on the merits and irreparability of the harm to be suffered if the injunction is not granted; lasts until a final judgment has been rendered.

presumption  An inference as to the truth or validity of an allegation; a presumption shifts the burden to the other party to disprove or show, with sufficient evidence, the falsity or invalidity of the allegation.

proprietor An individual, corporation, partnership, or other entity, as  the case may be, that owns an establishment or a food service or drinking establishment, except that no owner or operator of a radio or television station licensed by the Federal Communications Commission, cable system or satellite carrier, cable or satellite carrier service or programmer, provider of online services or network access or the operator of facilities therefor, telecommunications company, or any other such audio or audiovisual service or programmer now known or as may be developed in the future, commercial subscription music service, or owner or operator of any other transmission service, shall under any circumstances be deemed to be a proprietor.

pseudonymous A work written by an author identified by a fictitious name.

public domain  Material that is not protected under copyright law and is free for use by the public.

publication  The distribution of copies or phonorecords of a work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending; the offering to distribute copies or phonorecords to a group of persons for purposes of further distribution, public performance, or public display.

RAM (Random Access Memory)  a computer’s temporary storage system.

renewal term For works registered under the Copyright Act of 1909, it is a 28 year period following the initial 28 year term of copyright protection; renewal must have been made during the 28th year following first publication.

request for admission  A request for a party to the lawsuit to admit the truthfulness of a fact or statement. 

rule of doubt  A work is registered even though a reasonable doubt exists at the Copyright Office as to whether the requirements of the copyright act have been met or whether the deposit materials constitute protectible subject matter under copyright law; the final determination will be made by a federal court

secure test A non-marketed test administered under supervision at specified centers on specific dates, all copies of which are accounted for and either destroyed or returned to restricted locked storage following each administration. A test is "non-marketed" if copies are not sold and the test is distributed and used in such a manner that ownership and control of copies remain with the test sponsor or publisher.

serial   A work, such as a newspaper, magazine newsletter or journal, issued or intended to be issued in successive parts bearing numerical or chronological designations and intended to be continued indefinitely.

service mark A mark that is used in the sale or advertising of services in order to identify and distinguish services performed for the benefit of others.

settlement An agreement between the parties in which the dispute is formally resolved.

shareware A system of marketing copyrighted software whereby trial copies are made available for free and the user, if he or she wants to keep the program, pays a fee.

shrink-wrap agreement  a license between the manufacturer of a computer software program and a consumer granting certain legal rights and warranties in exchange for the right to use the program; usually triggered by the opening of the shrink-wrap containing the computer software program diskettes or by the return of the software registration or warranty card

single file database  A database that consists of data records pertaining to a single common subject matter

software or computer program  a set of instructions in a special code loaded into the computer. Software is used to perform functions and obtain results such as writing a letter, locating a zip code, or modifying a picture. When a new version of a software program is released, it is referred to as an upgrade.

sound recordings   Works that result from the fixation of a series of musical, spoken, or other sounds, but not including the sounds accompanying a motion picture or other audiovisual work, regardless of the nature of the material objects, such as disks, tapes, or other phonorecords, in which they are embodied.

statute of limitations The time limit during which the plaintiff must file a lawsuit. In copyright, it is three years from the date when the infringing activity occurred (or when the copyright owner could have reasonably known that the infringing activity occurred.)

statute of limitations Time limit during which the plaintiff must file a lawsuit. In copyright, it is three years from the date when the infringing activity occurred (or when the copyright owner could have reasonably known that the infringing activity occurred.)

statutory damages An award of damages proscribed by statute and not contingent upon proof of the copyright owner's loss or defendant's profits.

statutory damages monetary damages awarded for infringement of any one work in a sum of not less than $500 or more than $20,000 as the court considers just.

substantial similarity  Two works have similarities that can only result from copying, rather than from coincidence, common source derivation, or independent creation.

summons A document served with the complaint that explains that the defendant has been sued and has a certain time limit in which to respond.

supplementary work is a work prepared by an author for the purpose of introducing, concluding, illustrating, explaining, revising, commenting upon, or assisting in the use of another author’s work. Examples would be forewords, afterwards, pictorial illustrations, maps, charts, tables, editorial notes, musical arrangements, answer material for tests, bibliographies, appendixes, and indexes.

temporary restraining order or TRO  An injunction, often granted ex parte, that is short in duration and only remains in effect until the court has an opportunity to schedule a hearing for the preliminary injunction.

tenancy in common  a legal form of co-ownership of property that grants to each co‑owner an independent right to use or license the property, subject to a duty of accounting to the other co-owners for any profits; upon a co-owner's death, that co-owner's share goes to his or her beneficiaries or heirs, but not to other co-owners.

trade secret  Any formula, pattern, device or compilation of information which is used in one's business, and which gives the owner of the secret an opportunity to obtain an advantage over competitors who do not know or use it.

trademark  Any word, symbol, design, device, slogan or combination that identifies and distinguishes goods.

transfer of copyright ownership An assignment, mortgage, exclusive license, transfer by will or intestate succession any other change in the ownership of any or all of the exclusive rights in a copyright, whether or not it is limited in time or place of effect, but not including a nonexclusive license.

unclean hands  A defense asserted when the plaintiff has committed a serious act of wrongdoing in regard to the lawsuit or the activity precipitating the lawsuit.

unclean hands  a defense asserted when the plaintiff has committed a serious act of wrongdoing in regard to the lawsuit or the activity precipitating the lawsuit.

unfair competition A collection of common law principles and precedents, many of which are adopted as state laws, that protect against unfair business practices.

useful article  An article having an intrinsic utilitarian function that is not merely to portray the appearance of the article or to convey information.

utility patent  Patent granted for inventions or discoveries that are categorized as machines, processes, compositions, articles of manufactures or new uses of any of these.

visually perceptible copy  A copy that can be visually observed when it is embodied in a material object, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.

work made for hire  (1) a work prepared by an employee within the scope of employment; or (2) a work specially ordered or commissioned for use as a contribution to a collective work, as a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, as a translation, as a supplementary work, as a compilation, as an instructional text, as a test, as answer material for a test, or as an atlas, if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire.

work of authorship  Creation of intellectual or artistic effort fixed or embodied in a perceptible form and meeting the statutory standards of copyright protection.

work of visual art  Under the Copyright Act of 1976 it is either (1) a painting, drawing, print, or sculpture, existing in a single copy, in a limited edition of 200 copies or fewer that are signed and consecutively numbered by the author, or, in the case of an sculpture, in multiple cast, carved, or fabricated sculptures of 200 or fewer that are consecutively numbered by the author and bear the signature or other identifying mark of the author; or (2) a still photographic image produced for exhibition purposes only, existing in a single copy that is signed by the author, or in a limited edition  of 200 copies or fewer that are signed and consecutively numbered by the author.

writ of seizure An order of the court directing the federal marshal to seize and hold infringing merchandise; granted only upon payment of a bond of not less than twice the value of the infringing articles.