Copyright is the right to copy. It is a legal device that provides the creator of a work of art or literature, or a work that conveys information or ideas, the right to control how the work is used. It is a property right given to authors or creators of "works", e.g. literary works, artistic works, musical works, sound recordings, films and broadcasts or computer programs, to control the copying or exploitation of their work. As a property right it can be transferred by sale, gift or legacy and by licence issued in order to duplicate. Even though laws differ between countries, the general principles are the same and require the permission of the copyright owner before a work can be copied or reproduced regardless of whether that be through electronic or conventional means.
Copyright gives the owner the legal right to do certain things to the work; for example, making a copy, publishing, broadcasting or giving a public performance and making adaptations to the work. Anyone else who does any of these things without the permission of the owner infringes copyright and may be sued by the owner for that infringement.