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Copyright

What Is Copyright?

"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'..." (U.S. Copyright Office, Copyright Basics).

What Can Be Copyrighted?

Books, Articles, Photographs, Poems, Plays, Songs, and more...

"...including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works" (U.S. Copyright Office, Copyright Basics).

Works must be:

  • FIXED - that is, fixed in a tangible medium, like a piece of paper or video recording: an idea alone cannot be copyrighted.

  • ORIGINAL - though it is not necessary for a work to be completely original: existing works may be combined, adapted, or transformed in new ways that make them eligible for copyright protection.

  • MINIMALLY CREATIVE - and only a slight degree of creativity is all that is required to be eligible for protection.

What Cannot Be Copyrighted?

Forms, Facts, Names, Slogans, Words, Ideas, plus certain types of works:

  • Works in the public domain 
  • Government publications, including judicial opinions; public ordinances; administrative rulings; data and statistics
  • Works created by federal government employees as part of their official responsibilities
  • Works for which copyright wasn't obtained or for which copyright has expired

Rights of Copyright Holders

  1. Reproduction - the right to make copies of the work
  2. Distribution - the right to sell or otherwise distribute copies of the work
  3. Adaptation - the right to prepare new, derivative, works based on the protected work
  4. Performance and display - the right to perform or display the work (such as a stage play, movie, or painting) in public