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Copyright is a form of legal protection for creators of original works in fields such as literature, music, art, design and more. This type of right gives the creator of a work certain exclusive rights to it for a specific period of time. Copyright protection begins the moment the work is created in a tangible format. This concept is fundamental to the modern world and the creative economy.

In most countries, it is not necessary to register a work to receive copyright protection. Simply by creating the work, the author has the right to its copyright. However, registration may provide certain benefits, such as evidence of the copyright claim.

History of Copyright

The history of copyright is long and varied, but can be traced back to the invention of the printing press in the fifteenth century. In the eighteenth century, with the creation of the Statute of Queen Anne in the United Kingdom, the foundations for modern copyright law were laid. From this moment, the rights of the authors over their works were recognized and their reproduction began to be regulated.

In the twentieth century, advancing technologies and globalization made copyright even more important and complex. The Berne Convention, signed by many countries in 1886, established international standards for copyright protection. Later, the creation of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 1967 helped develop and fortify copyright laws internationally.

How Copyright Works

Copyright grants the owner a series of exclusive rights over his work. These include:

  • The right to reproduce the work.
  • The right to distribute copies of the work.
  • The right to perform or display the work publicly.
  • The right to make derivative works of the original work.

These rights may be licensed, sold or otherwise transferred by the copyright holder. It is also possible for the copyright holder to grant permission for others to use the work, often in exchange for payment, known as royalties.

In general, the copyright of a work lasts for the lifetime of the author plus 70 years, although this may vary depending on the type of work and the jurisdiction.

Copyright Licenses

The copyright holder can decide how they want their work to be used by others, and this is usually done by issuing a license. There are different types of licenses, each with its own conditions and restrictions. Here are some of the most common:

Traditional Licenses

  • Exclusive license: This license grants the licensee the exclusive right to use the work in a certain manner. The copyright holder may not grant the same right to other persons or exercise that right.
  • Non-exclusive license: This license gives the licensee the right to use the work in a certain way, but the copyright holder can grant the same right to other people and can also exercise that right.
  • Publishing License: It is a type of license that is frequently used in the publishing industry, and allows a publisher to publish a work.

Common Creative Use Licenses

Creative Commons licenses are a popular form of copyright licensing that allows rights holders to easily share their works with others. These licenses are free and easy to use. There are several versions of Creative Commons licenses, which offer different levels of freedom to use the works:

  • CC BY: This license allows others to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the work, even for commercial purposes, as long as they give credit to the original author.
  • CC BY-SA: Similar to the CC BY license, but also requires that any new work made from the original work be shared with the same license.
  • CC BY-ND: This license allows redistribution, both commercial and non-commercial, as long as credit is given and the work is shared unchanged and in its entirety.
  • CC BY-NC: This license allows others to remix, adapt and build on the work, but not for commercial purposes. Although their new works must acknowledge you and cannot be commercial, they do not have to license their derivative works on the same terms.

These licenses give creators the flexibility to decide how they want their work to be used, while making it easier to use and distribute content.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Copyright

Copyright has several advantages and disadvantages that deserve to be considered:


  • Legal protection: Copyright offers legal protection to creators, assuring them exclusive control over their work and the possibility of obtaining economic benefits from it.
  • Incentive for creativity: By guaranteeing creators that they will be able to benefit from their work, copyright incentivizes the creation of new works.
  • Recognition and reward of the creator: Copyright recognizes the creator's contribution to culture and society, and rewards him for his work.


  • Restrictions on the use of works: Copyright may limit the ability of others to use, share and build on protected works.
  • It can be difficult to enforce: In the age of the internet, it can be difficult to track and prevent copyright infringements.
  • Length of protection: Some argue that the current duration of copyright is too long, which may limit public access to protected works.

Exceptions and Limitations to Copyright

Not every use of a copyrighted work constitutes infringement. There are certain exceptions and limitations to copyright, which allow specific uses of works without permission from the copyright holder. A well-known example is the concept of "fair use", which allows the use of copyrighted works in certain cases, such as criticism, commentary, teaching and research.

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