Legal Advice for Free™

All your legal needs from attorneys to legal research.

Home Attorneys Legal Subjects State Law Paralegals     


Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States to the authors of "original works of authorship" including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works.

It is illegal for anyone to violate any of the rights provided by the copyright code to the owner of copyright. These rights, however, are not unlimited in scope. In some cases, these limitations are specified exemptions from copyright liability. One major limitation is the doctrine of "fair use." In other instances, the limitation takes the form of a "compulsory license" under which certain limited uses of copyrighted works are permitted upon payment of specified royalties and compliance with statutory conditions.

Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created in fixed form. The copyright in the work of authorship immediately becomes the property of the author who created the work. Only the author or those deriving their rights through the author can rightfully claim copyright.

Copyright protects "original works of authorship" that are fixed in a tangible form of expression. Copyright is secured automatically when the work is created, and a work is "created" when it is fixed in a copy or phonorecord for the first time. The fixation need not be directly perceptible so long as it may be communicated with the aid of a machine or device. Copyrightable works include the following categories:

  • (1) literary works;
  • (2) musical works, including any accompanying 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
  • (8) architectural works

These categories should be viewed broadly. For example, computer programs and most "compilations" may be registered as "literary works"; maps and architectural plans may be registered as "pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works."

Home Attorneys Legal Subjects State Law Paralegals              

This site is designed to provide general information and not specific advice to any visitor. The information on this site is provided with the understanding that the authors and publishers are not herein engaged in rendering legal, accounting, tax, or other professional advice and services. This site is is not responsible for any errors or omissions. All information in this site is provided "as is", with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy, timeliness or of the results obtained from the use of this information, and without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including, but not limited to warranties of performance, merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose.

© Legal Advice for Free™. Legal Disclaimer. Privacy Policy. Contact Information.