A copyright is a type of intellectual property that gives its owner the exclusive right to copy, distribute, adapt, display, and perform a creative work, usually for a limited time.[1][2][3][4][5] The creative work may be in a literary, artistic, educational, or musical form. Copyright is intended to protect the original expression of an idea in the form of a creative work, but not the idea itself.[6][7][8] A copyright is subject to limitations based on public interest considerations, such as the fair use doctrine in the United States.

Some jurisdictions require "fixing" copyrighted works in a tangible form. It is often shared among multiple authors, each of whom holds a set of rights to use or license the work, and who are commonly referred to as rights holders.[9][10][11][12][13][better source needed] These rights frequently include reproduction, control over derivative works, distribution, public performance, and moral rights such as attribution.[14]

Copyrights can be granted by public law and are in that case considered "territorial rights". This means that copyrights granted by the law of a certain state do not extend beyond the territory of that specific jurisdiction. Copyrights of this type vary by country; many countries, and sometimes a large group of countries, have made agreements with other countries on procedures applicable when works "cross" national borders or national rights are inconsistent.[15]

Typically, the public law duration of a copyright expires 50 to 100 years after the creator dies, depending on the jurisdiction. Some countries require certain copyright formalities[5] to establishing copyright, others recognize copyright in any completed work, without a formal registration. When the copyright of a work expires, it enters the public domain.

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