Copyright is a form of intellectual property right that protects an author’s manifestation of an original work. According to the U.S. Copyright Office, “Copyright protects ‘original works of authorship’ that are fixed in a tangible form of expression.”These manifestations ultimately impact all aspects of the economy. Nevertheless, the majority of copyrighted material is produced in a handful of industries—art, music, film, books, publications, software, architecture plans, and so on.

Simply put, the purpose of copyright is to create a legal mechanism that allows the producers of creative works to collect revenues from those who enjoy the benefits of creative production (usually consumers). This legal protection is intended to solve the “public good” problem associated with copyrighted works—i.e., once such works have been created, the cost of creating additional copies is de minimis and because it is very difficult to exclude anyone from consuming these very low cost (if not free) copies, the producer has little incentive to create the original works.

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