What is copyright?
Copyright is a form of protection
provided by the laws of the United States
17, U.S. Code) to the authors of "original works
of authorship," including literary, dramatic,
musical, artistic, and certain other
intellectual works. This protection is available
to both published and unpublished works.
Copyright generally gives the owner of copyright
the exclusive right to do and to
authorize others to do the following:
To reproduce the work in copies.
To prepare derivative works.
To distribute copies of the work to the
To display the copyrighted work
It is illegal for anyone to violate any
of the rights provided by the copyright law to
the owner of copyright.
Who can claim copyright?
Copyright protection subsists from the time the
work is created in fixed form. The copyright in
the work of authorship immediately
becomes the property of the author who created
the work. Only the author or those deriving
their rights through the author can rightfully
claim copyright. In the case of works made for
hire, the employer and not the employee is
considered to be the author.
What works are protected?
Copyright protects "original works of
authorship" that are fixed in a tangible form of
expression. The fixation need not be directly
perceptible so long as it may be communicated
with the aid of a machine or device.
Copyrightable works include literary works,
musical works, including any accompanying words,
pictorial, graphic, and audiovisual works and
more. These categories should be viewed broadly.
For example, computer programs and most
"compilations" may be registered as "literary
works"; maps and architectural plans may be
registered as "pictorial, graphic, and
Copyright is secured automatically when
the work is created, and a work is "created"
when it is fixed in a copy for the first time.
"Copies" are material objects from which a work
can be read or visually perceived either
directly or with the aid of a machine or device.