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What is copyright?

Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States
(title 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 This protection is available to both published and unpublished works.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 public.
  To display the copyrighted work publicly.

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 sculptural works."

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.

     

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