According to the U.S. Copyright Office, "Copyright is a type of intellectual property that protects original works of authorship as soon as an author fixes the work in a tangible form of expression" (para. 1).
- Original works of authorship include literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic works (e.g. poetry, architecture, novels, movies, songs, or computer software).
- A work becomes fixed when it is captured by an author in a sufficiently permanent medium, which allows for the work to be reproduced, perceived, or communicated for more than a brief period of time. Tangible mediums can include but are not limited to traditional writing, recordings, images, webpages, and software. Copyright does NOT project facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation.
As soon as the original work is fixed in a tangible medium, the author(s) is the copyright holder of the work. No copyright marks or registration is required in order to enforce copyright.
Copyright holders have the exclusive rights to:
- Create derivative works based on the original
- Reproduce the work (in whole or in part)
- Distribute the work (in whole or in part)
- Publicly perform or publicly display the work