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A copyright disclaimer, also often called a "copyright and disclaimer," is actually the combination of two important statements: a copyright notice to make it clear that the content is legally copyrighted and a disclaimer against such things as information or claims made within the content. This type of statement is usually found on websites; in artistic works such as books, music and art; and on computer software. It lays out the clear conditions of content use as well as a voluntary repudiation within the disclaimer. This repudiation is a statement that the owners deny any claims of liability for problems that arise through use of the content.
One type of copyright disclaimer is used when someone uses lines from a printed work, images from a TV show or movie, artwork or any creation that's not his own. By including a fair use copyright disclaimer, he's stating that he doesn't own the copyright, but that he's using the copyrighted materials under the fair use clause. This clause allows small instances of use for certain purposes, such as the creation of educational materials or the use of quotes or snippets in other work.
A copyright is a protection that's placed on such things as books, poems, music, software, designs, art and many other mediums of expression. While it is possible to register a copyright, it's not usually necessary. Anything that's created typically is automatically protected under this part of the intellectual property law. A poem scribbled on scrap paper normally is just as protected under copyright as a published novel. Depending on the jurisdiction, it may be necessary to register a copyright to bring a legal claim to court, however.
Websites often have a special page called the "Copyright and Disclaimer" page. This page typically states the conditions of use for everything on the site. These pages usually mention that the content is protected under copyright and legally owned by the site owner as well.
There also may be other aspects to the copyright disclaimer and conditions of use, such as a Creative Commons license. Works licensed under Creative Commons are designed to be republished, shared and built upon. Each copyright notice for work under this license should be read carefully before determining what particular rights are granted. Creative Commons licensed works can typically be used in a variety of ways as long as the proper attribution, or credit, is given.
Disclaimers on websites also usually refer to the accuracy of the content and delimit the scope of obligations of the site owners. For example, if owners of a site about how to start a campfire had to defend themselves against a lawsuit because someone followed the site instructions and was burned, the site's copyright disclaimer page could help protect the site owners. In this case, it could delimit their scope of obligations regarding how people might use the information found on the site, and keep them from being liable for injuries or other damages.