Guide to Copyright Law in California

Most of copyright law is nationally applicable, so not specific to California. Please see our Guide to Copyright Law in the United States. For a few basics, see below.

What does it mean to have a “copyright” and how does it work?

Having a copyright for a work, such as a piece of writing, art, music, etc., means you “own” the intellectual aspects of the work, and it is your property (“intellectual property”), much like you own physical objects such as a computer. This means you have the right to determine what happens with that work, to prevent or allow others to use the work, and to make money from the work.

Owning vs. right to use (licensing)

When you own the copyright to a work, you essentially have full control over it. When someone else owns the copyright to a work, the owner may allow you the right to use the work in certain ways, which is called “licensing” or “granting a license” to use the work.

See more at our Guide to Copyright Law in the U.S.



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