Copyright are exclusive rights by which creative works is protected from unauthorised use, sharing, modification, share of modifications and creation of derivative works. It grants a monopoly to creative workers for limited time for their own endeavours. The justification for copyright is given  as to recognise the labour of the creator, strive a balance between the intrests of users and creators as well as to balance the interest of the public with the rights of the creator. The owner of the work is identified and deserves attribution as well as the reward for his efforts. Another justification is the incentive to create more creative works and to ensure that better results by devoting time and energy will be produced in future, because of the creators being able to rely on Copyright as the legal framework for the protection of their works.
This method superseeded patronage as a funding method to make a living and enabled creative workers to benefit directly from their products. Copyright is often refered to as protecting the moral rights of creators, with the two key reasons given as the right to attribution and the right not to have work destroyed or altered without the creators permission.  However, in the U.S. Constitution the main purpose and aim of Copyright is described as â€œto promote progress in science, culture, and technologyâ€?.
Creative works included under Copyright legislation comprises literacy works including software and databases, dramatic works including performances, music and sound recordings, movies, and broadcasts both on radio and television, art works like paintings and photographs, and some designs, such as typographic arrangements in publications, but excluding trademarks.
The development of the copyright laws started off with the industrial development of the printing press as well as the establishment of secular universities with a broader hunger for knowledge by merchants wanting to trade further away from home and obtain information about business developments.
In 1710 the Statue of Anne laid the foundations for the modern copyright law. It seems that the necessity for this Statue was to ensure that the consumers were protected from variations of literacy works put out by publishers, and to ensure the authors retained exclusive rights rather than the publishers. 
The duration of the copyright then was 28 years after which the works passed into the public domain. Today, even one of the fierest critics of modern copyright law, Dr. Lawrence Lessig from Stanford University, still argues in general for the copyright protection set up by the Statue of Anne on Slashdot :
â€œI am not against copyright. I think the copyright our framers gave us, for example (a term of 14 years, renewable once; granted only if you register; for limited kinds of work; and protecting a limited range of rights) was a bit weak, but not much. I would favor a somewhat stronger right than they gave us, but for just about as long.â€œ
Dr. Lawrence Lessig, who tried to overturn the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act in the US Supreme High Court in the case Eldred v. Ashcroft, points out some arguments for copyright legislation:
â€œ But we should not be calling for the repeal of all copyright. We should be calling for a balanced and limited form of copyright – much like the right of our framers – that gives artists the right to earn a living, without giving copyright hoarders the power to veto innovation.â€?Further reasons for copyright regulations are to maintain the creators’ ethical, interpretational and qualitative wishes about the use of their work .
â€œThose who represented the estate of Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel) argued that it was better to leave control of his work in the hands of his estate than to allow it to fall into the public domain, where people could use it to ‘glorify drugs or to create pornography.’ The Gershwin estate had a similar rationale for its ‘protection’ of the work of George Gershwin. His estate refuses, for example, to license Porgy and Bess to anyone who does not use African-Americans in the cast. That’s its view of how this part of American culture should be controlled, and it wanted this law to help it maintain that control.â€? 
Copyright ensures that the exclusive rights of the creator are respected. These rights are the â€œrights of reproduction, distribution, rental and lending, performance in public, communication to the public, adaptation and authorization. â€œ
In the Copyright regulation the freedom to use other people’s creative work has the status as exception. This includes fair dealing: research or private study, for reviews or reporting current events. For fair dealing as a defense in court, the reasons for the breach of copyright and who benefited from it are considered, the means of obtaining the work, the amount taken as no more than necessary is allowed, the consequenses, if there has been any acknowlegment of the work used and the use of the copyrighted work. Other defences for copyright breaches are disclosure in the public intrest, incidental use, library and educational use or public administration. For film and sound recordings, further exceptions of copyright legislation are recording for the purpose of supervision, such as radio stations are obliged to record their broadcast in case of controversy for the governmental regulator Ofcom, the BBC has also the right of recording for archival purposes and since the US Supreme Court case in 1984 titled Sony Corp. v. Universal City Studios Inc., it is acknowledged that private users have the right to record free-air broadcasts for ‘Time-Shifting’ purposes under the fair use defence to use at a more convenient time.
As the Electronic Frontier Foundation describes, the ruling in the ‘Time-Shifting’ court case had also been used as a model for defense in the Napster Peer-to-Peer Filesharing court case. But in contrast to the Betamax case, Napster was ordered to rewrite its software to prevent copyright infringement. â€œIt imposes liability when a third party has the right and ability to supervise the infringing activity and also has a direct financial interest in such activities. Despite Napster’s lack of a business model, the court found it financially benefited because the availability of the music acted as a draw for future customers.â€? According to Wikipedia  Napster had at peak times 26.4 million users worldwide in February 2001.
However, Copyright regulations are not just restrictions for users of creative works, they also ensure rights for the creator of the works. â€œThe phrase ‘exclusive right’ means that only the copyright holder is free to exercise the attendant rights, and others are prohibited from doing (…) (so). Copyright is often called a ‘negative right’, as it serves to prohibit (…), rather than permit (…) .â€? The collaborate dictionary Wikipedia continues to discuss the ethics of Copyright, and if it is a property right or a moral right.  â€œMany argue that copyright does not exist merely to restrict third parties from publishing ideas and information, and that defining copyright purely as a negative right is contrary to the public policy objective of encouraging authors to create new works and enrich the public domain.â€?
Extended Copyright regulations have now made it possible to further define the wishes of authors and artists more precisely via the Creative Commons Licenses, which â€œoffers flexible copyright licenses for creative works. We have built upon the ‘all rights reserved’ of traditional copyright to create a voluntary ‘some rights reserved’ copyright.â€œ Creative Commons Licenses give permission for certain usage of creative works in advance under certain conditions. In the internet age, this allows creative collaboration over space and time with people who have never met. The authors can in advance define if they want to allow copying, distribution or modification of their work, derivative works and if they insist on acknowledgement. They can even decide on their prefered mixture of retaining rights and granting freedoms:
For example my favourite is the â€œNonCommercial-ShareAlikeâ€? License, which allows users to â€œto copy, distribute, display, and perform the work and to make derivative works but only under the following conditions; Non-Commercial: You may not use this work for commercial purposes. Share Alike: If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a licence identical to this one. Any of these conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder.â€?
For Software, the Free Software Foundation offers the GNU General Public Licence to the coders of free software, in particular for GNU/Linux based programms.  The Free Software Foundation state in its preamble: â€œWe protect your rights with two steps: (1) copyright the software, and (2) offer you this license which gives you legal permission to copy, distribute and/or modify the software.â€?
The UK Copyright Service points out a similar system of  granting rights to users in advance by attaching copyright notices further defining the intentions of the creators, from â€œAll rights reservedâ€? to â€œPermission granted to reproduce for personal and educational use onlyâ€? to â€œMay be used free of charge.â€?
 Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright
 Slashdot article: Lawrence Lessig Answers Your Questions, 21.12.2001, http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=01/12/21/155221
 US constitution:
â€œTo promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.â€?
U.S. Constitution: Article I, Section 8.
 Creative Commons License: http://creativecommons.org/ ,
 Electronic Frontier Foundation, Robin D. Gross EFF Staff Attorney for Intellectual Property,
â€œ9th Circuit Napster Ruling Requires P2P Developers Ensure No One Misuses Their Systemsâ€?, 26.2.2002, http://www.eff.org/IP/P2P/Napster/20010226_rgross_nap_essay.html
 Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napster
 Factsheet No. P-03, Issued: August 2000, Last amended: 11th August 2004, Examples of copyright statements, http://copyrightservice.co.uk/copyright/p03_copyright_notices
 GNU GPL, http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html
This work licensed under the Creative Commons NonCommercial-ShareAlike 1.0 License.