What is copyright?

In short, it's a legal right for content creators. Copyright applies to billions of pieces of content on the web and in the real world, yet how it works and when it applies is still a mystery to many.

Is this image or that piece of background music free to use?

Can you copyright a name?

Can I copyright a recipe, or a business practice I created?

Part of the problem is that copyright laws vary from country to country.

And of course those laws, when and where they do apply, can always be challenged. There's a lot of grey area in copyright, and it's near impossible to stay on top of all of the relevant case law unless you've made a career of it.

Even so, there are several things you simply can't copyright. The words, names, and symbols used in your business, for example--you can't copyright those. What you can do is trademark them.

No copyright applies to data and facts.

No one can copyright the works of the federal government.

You can't copyright a name of a website, which is why companies should buy the various .ca, .com, .org and other domains associated with theirs. Domains aren't subject to copyright so there's nothing preventing someone else from scooping up yours with a different extension and using it as they please.

Inventions and machines can't be copyrighted, either. What you can do to protect your original and unique inventions is file a patent.

A new infographic from web hosting review brand WhoIsHostingThis.com explores the ins and outs of copyright, with a list of 15 surprising things that can't be copyrighted.

It answers the questions:

  • What is copyright?
  • What does copyright apply to?
  • What does copyright not apply to?
  • What other ways can you protect your work?

Check it out:

Image credit: WhoIsHostingThis.com