According to U.S. Copyright Law, copyright protects works of "original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression." This includes broad categories of (1) literary works, (2) musical works (including any accompany words), (3) dramatic works (including any accompanying music), (4) pantomimes and choreographic works, (5) pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works, (6) motion pictures and other audiovisual works, (7) sound recordings, and (8) architectural works.
Copyright gives the author the following exclusive rights to:
Examples of copyrightable works include:
Copyright does not protect:
According to the U.S. Copyright office website, "the term of copyright for a particular work depends on several factors, including whether it has been published, and, if so, the date of first publication. As a general rule, for works created after January 1, 1978, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years. For an anonymous work, a pseudonymous work, or a work made for hire, the copyright endures for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first. For works first published prior to 1978, the term will vary depending on several factors."
To learn more about copyright terms, visit Cornell University's Copyright Term and Public Domain Chart.
Disclaimer: The information presented in this guide is intended for information purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice.