Many people in New York might not associated copyrights and criminal charges but it is important to know that the two can in fact be linked. Among the many examples of this is one that involves alleged illegal distribution of two Hollywood blockbuster films earlier in the century. As explained by the United States Department of Justice, four different individuals were charged with federal crimes involving copyright infringement and conspiracy.
Copyrights are granted to individuals or multiple persons for the creation of original creative works. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, these works might include novels, movies, music, sculptures, paintings and more. While the person or persons who hold a copyright are granted exclusive rights to their works, the law does recognize some references or uses thereof for select purposes.
Examples of what may be called fair use doctrine include using a work for educational purposes, to provide news reports or critiques on the work or even to conduct research. It is also important to know that copyrights can expire. The length of the copyright protection varies based upon the number of individuals granted the copyright and when the copyright was first granted.
While the owner of a copyright has the right to display, distribute, reproduce, perform or adapt a work, the rights to the copyright can also be gifted to another individual or entity. This may happen as part of passing on an estate to a child or other heir, as part of a charitable donation or as the result of a sale of the rights.