Copyright is a legal concept, enacted by most governments, that grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights to its use and distribution, usually for a limited time, with the intention of enabling the creator of intellectual wealth (e.g. the photographer of a photograph or the author of a book) to receive compensation for their work and be able to financially support themselves.
Copyright is a form of intellectual property (as patents, trademarks and trade secrets are), applicable to any expressible form of an idea or information that is substantive and discrete. It is often shared, then percentage holders are commonly called rightsholders: legally, contractually and in associated "rights" business functions. Generally rightsholders have "the right to copy", but also the right to be credited for the work, to determine who may adapt the work to other forms, who may perform the work, who may financially benefit from it, and other related rights.
Copyright is concerned with original literary, musical or artistic works. These include computer software; any drawing, map, chart or plan; photographs and films; architectural works; sculptures; sound recordings; TV and radio broadcasts etc...
Copyright protection provides benefits in the form of economic rights which entitle the creators to control use of their literary and artistic material in a number of ways, such as by making copies, issuing copies to the public, performing in public, broadcasting and use on-line and to obtain an appropriate economic reward. Copyright also gives moral rights to be identified as the creator of certain kinds of material, and to object to distortion or mutilation of it.
Without copyright protection, it would often be very easy for others to exploit material without paying the creator.
Copyright is about the right to copy. Copyright is a legal term describing rights given to creators for their original literary and artistic works which allow them to control their subsequent use. It is important to recognize that copyright is not a monopoly. Two people could completely independently create identical items. Provided there is no copying, there is no infringement and both can hold copyright in their respective works. How do I obtain copyright-protection?
The creators of such works automatically acquire rights, which mean that they can control their further use. The only absolute requirement is that the work is original, i.e. not copied from somewhere else and has required original intellectual effort by the author. Ownership normally rests with the creator but there can be situations e.g. employment contracts etc. which affect this. In general, copyright protection lasts until 70 years after the death of the owner.
A field of rights related to copyright has rapidly developed over the last 50 years. These related rights grew up around copyrighted works. They provide similar protection, although often more limited and of shorter duration. They cover a range of rights, which have been derived from copyright principles and are granted to e.g. performing artists, producers of sound recordings, broadcasting organizations in their radio and television programs, and creators/owners of databases.