Copyright is literally “the right to copy” and the laws that govern the reproduction of material. Reproduction of your work without your knowledge is a violation of copyright law. Copyrights may subsist in a wide range of creative, intellectual, or artistic forms or “works”. They include poems, plays, paintings, sculptures, photographs, musical compositions and other forms of literary work. The authority of selling, renting or copying the work is restricted to the owner, manufacturer or the creator of the work.
Although there are laws regarding copyright, one can actually take approximately 300 words from a book or any other lengthy work of writing and use it, or you can quote 150 words from a magazine article. If you wanted you could also use 50 words from a newspaper article (generally considered fair-use), without a fee. Even if you’ve taken some words/material from the document(s), then this should be mentioned in the bibliography/references/acknowledgements section; this commonly referred to as ‘fair dealing’.
The use of discretion is very important and one should be careful not to copy the entire work of the author and claim it as your own. One should not paraphrase a substantial amount of the authors work (writing or a theme) without due acknowledgement. If one is writing from a newspaper or a magazine, then a request should be sent to the editor of that particular newspaper or magazine to use “borrowed” material from it. This is also true in cases of borrowing extracts from books, where permission should be acquired from the author and the publisher of the book. You should give them as much information as possible about your article or book, your publisher, as well as other books or articles written by you. If you want to use quotes you can tell them the reasons behind using a particular quote from a book. If you say that you will give them due acknowledgement in your writing, they will generally oblige.
Even providing content for your web pages requires it to be original and not something that belongs to someone else. If you do not own text, graphics, music, audiovisual or other intellectual property that you want to make copies of, or use for your projects (such as Web pages), you will need to get permission from the owner. Now, when you have uploaded content to your website, you will not want copying, so make sure that your website has a copyright notice, as this reduces the possibility of material being used from your site on someone elses.
Copyrights are generally for a variety of lengths in many different places/areas of jurisdiction. It also depends on whether a work is published or unpublished, and also which category the work is in. In most of the world, the default length of copyright for many works is generally the life of the author plus either 50 or 70 years. A copyright in general, always expires at the end of the year concerned, rather than on the exact date of the death of the author. In the United States the right to reclaim a copyright–or “terminate the transfer” of a copyright–commences and ends on the anniversaries of the exact dates.