Copyright is a group of legally enforcable rights with respect to the copying and use of original intellectual and artistic works. Originally applied to print media, it now encompasses all types of media, including one-of-a-kind works of art and architecture. Copyright gives the author of the work, or their assignee, the exclusive right to control the copying of a work for a period of time, generally fixed to a certain period of time after the death of the author. After this period expires, the work passes into the public domain and may be freely copied or used by anyone.
Copyright arises automatically when an original work is created. In some countries, most notably the United States, it is often adventageous to also register a copyright, although to keep copyright law consistent throughout the world, a country can no longer insist that a work be registered in order to assert copyright.
Although it was once a requirement in some countries, attaching the (c) copyright symbol and date of creation to a work is no longer a requirement to assert copyright. However, older works often show the copyright mark.
Under the Berne Convention, the creation of copyright in the country of origin of the work automatically allows the copyright to be asserted in all of the countries that are members of the convention.