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Increasingly, small businesses use the Internet to sell, to launch, to inform, to market, to complain, . . . . [to do just about anything]. There are so many rules, regulations, statutes, concerns, and other worries, that it is impossible to address them all. Many arise without expectation. That said, here are some “basics” about copyright.

Intellectual property refers to the set of rights an owner has to creations of the mind. Generally, a copyright is a set of exclusive rights granted to the author – or owner – of an original work. Original works may include literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. Any unauthorized use of a copyrighted work is an infringement of a copyright holder’s exclusive rights to control who can reproduce, distribute, and display his or her works.

There are exceptions to the general rule (aren’t there always). Fair use allows the use of copyrighted materials for purposes of criticism, comment, teaching, scholarship, or research to serve as a balance between protecting intellectual property rights and the free exchange of information and opinion.

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