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[kop-ee-rahyt] /ˈkɒp iˌraɪt/
the exclusive right to make copies, license, and otherwise exploit a literary, musical, or artistic work, whether printed, audio, video, etc.: works granted such right by law on or after January 1, 1978, are protected for the lifetime of the author or creator and for a period of 70 years after his or her death.
of or relating to copyrights.
Also, copyrighted. protected by copyright.
verb (used with object)
to secure a copyright on.
Origin of copyright
1725-35; copy + right
Related forms
copyrightable, adjective
copyrighter, noun
uncopyrighted, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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British Dictionary definitions for copyright


the exclusive right to produce copies and to control an original literary, musical, or artistic work, granted by law for a specified number of years (in Britain, usually 70 years from the death of the author, composer, etc, or from the date of publication if later) (c)
(of a work, etc) subject to or controlled by copyright
(transitive) to take out a copyright on
Derived Forms
copyrightable, adjective
copyrighter, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for copyright

"the right to make or sell copies," 1735, from copy + right (n.). As a verb, from 1806 (implied in past participle adjective copyrighted).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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copyright in Culture

copyright definition

The legal protection given to published works, forbidding anyone but the author from publishing or selling them. An author can transfer the copyright to another person or corporation, such as a publishing company.

Note: The symbol for copyright is ©.

copyright definition

A grant of an exclusive right to produce or sell a book, motion picture, work of art, musical composition, software, or similar product during a specified period of time.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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copyright in Technology
The exclusive rights of the owner of the copyright on a work to make and distribute copies, prepare derivative works, and perform and display the work in public (these last two mainly apply to plays, films, dances and the like, but could also apply to software).
A work, including a piece of software, is under copyright by default in most coutries, whether of not it displays a copyright notice. However, a copyright notice may make it easier to assert ownership. The copyright owner is the person or company whose name appears in the copyright notice on the box, or the disk or the screen or wherever. Most countries have agreed to uphold each others' copyrights.
A copyright notice has three parts. The first can be either the copyright symbol, the word "Copyright" or the abbreviation "Copr". Only the first of these is recognised internationally. This is followed by the name of the copyright holder and the year of first publication.
Originally, most of the computer industry assumed that only the program's underlying instructions were protected under copyright law but, beginning in the early 1980s, a series of lawsuits involving the video screens of game programs extended protections to the appearance of programs.
Use of copyright to restrict redistribution is immoral, unethical and illegitimate. It is a result of brainwashing by monopolists and corporate interests and it violates everyone's rights. Copyrights and patents hamper technological progress by making a naturally abundant resource scarce. Many, from communists to right wing libertarians, are trying to abolish intellectual property myths.
See also public domain, copyleft, software law.
US Copyright Office (
Usenet newsgroup:
[Is this definition correct in the UK? In the US? Elsewhere?]
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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