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Intellectual property is a legal ownership, of an abstract artistic creation, symbol, or a physical implementation of an idea. These types of property are protected, by laws like physical goods and services. The value of intellectual property is not primarily in the physical manifestation, of one physical, or digital item or copy. The value is in that information, that the item contains, where the reproduction is only a minor part, of the overal value, of the product or service.
Copyright is the most commonly talked about intellectual property, in the artist and entertainment industries, which is a legal protection, for a creative work, including artwork, video, buildings, writings, and computer code. The work does not have to be artistic in nature, just that it is a unique type of media, that was created. Designs and specifically fonts are deliberately excluded from protections, unless you do a really precise copy of someones designs and fonts are protected, by something called and End User License Agreement.
The ethical principle behind copyright law is very simple: do not use anything that you do not have explicit approval for. You often have to pay different amounts, for different uses, like fonts can be licensed, for websites or just for using, in graphics, or embedding in PDFs. Rights for things like immoral activities or things that make the author look bad have to be negotiated separately. Using media without approval is often called piracy, which is just a fancy euphemism, for stealing.
Royalty Free Media
If you need photos or drawings, you can usually buy things called clipart, stock photos, and royalty free media, where you buy one picture or sound or whatever, for a set fee. You can then you can use it, in anything, that the license allows. You can use repeatedly, as many times as you want, without paying anything more, than you did, with the initial fee.
Website Visitor Issues
Your Legal Rights
When you buy something digital, you don't have all rights to it anymore, than you do, when you buy a physical book. If you took the physical book and photocopied all the pages and uploaded them online, you would be in trouble, for the exact same crime. Each time you upload a book or anything else, you are actually uploading a copy, of that item, and each time someone downloads it, they are making another copy of it. It would be the same as you photocopying a million copies, of the same book and sending them in the mail, to everyone. Nowadays people think things that are easy should be legal, but copyrights are designed, for just these scenarios.
Free with Restrictions
Sometimes some people decide that they want to give away their copyright, so that others can copy the work freely and some even allow their modification as well, but most reserve some rights. The only copyrighted items, that can be used, without any restrictions are called public domain. Copyrights expire, after different periods of time, depending upon media. Books become public domain after 75 years after the author's death or 95 years after writing the book, whatever comes first. Right now, most public domain books include everything written (and translated) before 1920 something. Copyright expiration can and often is continued to extend (which applies to everyone and every creative work), over time, as congress passes new laws.
Everything is Copyrighted
Although many people are able to do many things online for free, what you see online is all copyrighted, at the moment it was created, automatically, according to US law. You do not have to put up a copyright notice to be protected by copyright. There are a whole set of different licenses for allowing people to use your artwork and writing, while still keeping some restrictions on them, in a system called Creative Commons. I make use of this system throughout my website.
Everything on my websites are copyrighted, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise marked.
You can find the specific and authoritative license restrictions, on the pages, that contain the various media, but, in general, most my text books can be freely copied, but not modified, in any way (this also means you cannot change the file formats of the book files). The PDFs are the only file format versions, that can be redistributed, individually. I have series, topical, and file format bundles of books, in zip files, that contain a number of related books, in 1-3 formats, in each zip file bundle, that can be copied similarly.
My music has a similar licensing agreement. The design elements, in the free stuff section, are mostly licensed, so that you can modify and distribute them, if you give me credit. The photo related material, in the free stuff section, can be distributed freely and modified freely, if you let others modify your modification, of my work and you give me credit.
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