A Whirlwind Tour of American Copyright

This post begins with an obligatory disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. None of the following should be construed as legal advice, nor should it be taken as the final binding scholarly word on the subject. Likewise, everything here applies only to the United States. The specifics of copyright law vary considerably between jurisdictions, and I cannot speak with any authority on how things stand in, say, Belgium. (There are even differences depending on which area of the United States you're talking about, but I won't be getting into that level of detail today.) Still, in addition to doing a considerable amount of independent research, I have actually studied copyright law with a copyright lawyer, and it's something I'm generally pretty passionate about. I've found that there are a surprising number of misconceptions floating around out there on the subject, and today I want to try and clear some of them up in language that is accessible to a lay audience.

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