Copyright law is a segment of intellectual property law dealing with the protection of what can primarily be considered artistic or literary works, such as books, movies, music, or paintings. Intellectual property laws have come under various amounts of scrutiny. It is thought by some, that intellectual property laws encourage development of new ideas that benefit humanity, by allowing for those who come up with new ideas to profit from their work. Copyrights last the lifetime of a work’s creator, and then 70 years after their death. During the length of the copyright the creator has the right to determine who will be able to use their work. There are some people who feel that intellectual property laws, such as copyright, discourage creativity and allow for the formation of monopolies, which decrease competition.
In 1790, the copyright law was first established in the United States; the right to establish copyright laws was written into the Constitution prior to 1790. Within a couple of weeks of the 1790 law, the first copyright in the United States had been granted. Originally, the copyright law only allowed for a copyright to be held for 14 years, but it was also renewable. Throughout the years, the time that a copyright can be in effect has increased. It was in 1998 that the Copyright Term Extension Act increased the length of copyrights to the amount of time that is presently in place. Another change that occurred in copyright law over the years is that what copyright laws covered has been increased. The initial protection for written works was expanded to include music, pictures, movies, and the other works that it covers today.
Copyright law has gone through many changes over the years, and with the rise of the internet more discussions and law changes are likely to occur.