When your make your own piece of original work, be that a web site, program, book, picture or anything else for that matter you have the Copyright of it which means that you can say who can copy it or use it as in all reality it is yours.
Copyright protects all types of expressions, so you can copyright literary, dramatic, and musical works; pantomimes and choreography; pictorial, graphic and sculptural works; audio-visual works; sound recordings; and architectural works. An original expression may also be okay for copyright protection.
Therefore anything you make is copyrighted to you, this article is copyrighted to me as soon as I hit the save button. So most of the items you will ever come across on the internet are also copyrighted. Things like the text of web pages, ASCII text documents, contents of email and Usenet messages, sound files, graphics files, executable computer programs and computer program listings are all copyrighted to their authors.
Not everything can be copyrighted. The following list of items cannot be copyrighted as it would be practically impossible to inforce the copyright.
Many people say "If it doesn't have a copyright notice, it's not copyrighted." and this was once true but since about 1990 almost anything created privately and originally is copyrighted to its author(s). Therefore you shouldn`t ever use other peoples work in your own things without first asking their permission.
It is very true that if you have a copyright notice you are inforcing the protection and so I would recommend you to always put a copyright notice on everything you ever make, but even if your things do not have the copyright notice no once can legally use it without your permission.
The correct form for a copyright notice is: "Copyright [dates] by [author/owner]" you are able to use a C in a circle '©' rather than the word "Copyright". It is also very important to note that the '(C)' has never been given legal force but for some mediums it may be easier to use the '(C)'.
You can never use anyone elses work unless it is in the Public Domain and it will only be Public Domain if clearly stated on the item. Do NOT assume that a item is Public Domain. If you wish to use someone elses items then contact them and politely ask if it would be okay if you used it.
For more information about copyright visit the Copyright Myths web page at http:www.clari.net/brad/copymyths.html or the Copyright FAQ at http://www.aimnet.com/~carroll/copyright/faq-home.html. I hope this article has been of some use to you, please E-Mail me your comments and suggestions.
Author: Antony Chesworth