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Copyright: General Information

Requirements for United States Copyright

Copyright in the United States protects "original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression." Works covered by copyright include literary works; musical works, including any accompanying words; dramatic works, including any accompanying music; pantomimes and choreographic works; pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works; motion pictures and other audiovisual works; sound recordings; and architectural works. 

Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, or processes.

US Copyright Law no longer requires authors to register their copyright in order to be protected. The moment an original work is created in a fixed, tangible format, the work is protected for the life of the author plus 70 years

17 U.S. Code § 102 - Subject matter of copyright: In general. (n.d.). Retrieved June 17, 2019, from LII / Legal Information Institute website:

Purpose of Copyright Law

The Congress shall have Power…To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Tımes to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

- United States Constitution, Article i, Section 8

What does copyright cover?

US Copyright Law provides a bundle of rights for creators of original works. These rights are:

  1. the right to reproduce the copyrighted work;
  2. the right to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work;
  3. the right to distribute copies of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
  4. the right to publicly perform the work;
  5. the right to publicly display the work;
  6. for sound recordings, the right to publicly perform the work through an audio transmission.

Further Reading