This is a law that protects intellectual property, giving creators of books, music, and films the exclusive right to publish, sell, reproduce, or otherwise use the material for a set amount of time. (Fun fact: All works published in the United States before 1923 are in the public domain, aka not subject to copyright. Works published after 1922, but before 1978, are protected for ninety- five years from the date of publication. For works created, but not published, before 1978, the copyright lasts for the life of the author or artist plus seventy years.) Anyone else who wants to use the material must pay a licensing fee to the owner of the copyright. When that set amount of time is up, the work is considered in the public domain, which means anyone can use it fo’ free.

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