DEFINITION of 'Copyright'

The ownership of intellectual property by the item's creator. Copyright law gives creators of original ideas, art, etc. the exclusive right to further develop them for a given amount of time, at which point the copyrighted item becomes public domain.

BREAKING DOWN 'Copyright'

Copyright law states that a copyright stands for between 50 and 100 years from the creator's death if the creator is an individual, and a shorter time if the creator is a corporation. Copyrights can apply to many different products, including literary works, film, audio, drawings and software. While copyright law is not all-encompassing, other laws (such as patent and trademark laws) may impose additional sanctions.

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