Copyright protects “original works of authorship” that are
“fixed in a tangible medium of expression.”
Copyright does NOT protect ideas.
Rather, copyright protects the creative expression of ideas.
Copyright protects the following types of works:
- Literary and other textual works
- Musical works, including any accompanying lyrics
- Dramatic works, including any accompanying music
- Pantomimes and choreographic works
- Motion pictures and other audiovisual / multi-media works
- Pictorial, graphic and sculptural works
- Architectural works
Further, the owner of a copyright has the exclusive rights to:
- Distribute, sell or otherwise transfer the work
- Display the work publicly
- Perform the work publicly
- Prepare “derivative works,” based on the original work
- Publicly perform a sound recording by means of digital audio transmission
Things NOT subject to copyright protection include: titles, phrases, slogans, short names, familiar symbols or designs, facts, ideas, methods and works that contain no original authorship and / or consists of material or information that is in the public domain.
Copyright protection exists from the time that the work is memorialized. Registration is not required for copyright protection to exist, but is required to file a copyright infringement lawsuit, regardless of the relief sought (monetary damages or equitable relief). Copyright registration also benefits the owner by creating a public record of the creation of the work and its ownership. Timely copyright registration may also make attorneys fees and statutory damages available in a court action for infringement. Copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years. If the work is a “work for hire,” (if the author is a corporation), protection lasts for 95 years from the publication date or 120 years from the date of creation, whichever is shorter.