Can you own an idea? According to U.S. copyright law, you can! Your intellectual property is the record of the ideas you have. In order for your intellectual property to be protected by law, you have make a physical record of the ideas you have--write your story, record your song, hack your software, publish your blog. Once you have created the physical copy of the idea, it's yours! No one can use it without your permission or without giving you the credit for the idea.

Stealing intellectual property is called plagiarism, and it's against the law.

There are some exceptions to copyright law called "fair use." The main place fair use works is in school--you have permission to use other people's intellectual property as long as you give them credit for their ideas. This is a big deal when you are doing research online; while it's okay to use other people's ideas, because the ideas belong to someone else, you need to explain where the ideas came from.