A copyright legally protects a work from being reproduced, performed, displayed, or otherwise disseminated without the permission of the copyright owner. The copyright owner may license the use of a work to others and receive royalties for each performance or copy that is made.
What rights do I have as a copyright owner?
The rights holder (the person who owns the copyright) has the right to do and/or authorize others to do the following with regard to the copyrighted work:
- reproduce the work
- prepare derivative works based on the original
- distribute copies to the public
- perform the work publicly
- display the work publicly
What can be copyrighted?
- literary works (novels, poetry, newspapers, software)
- musical works, including any accompanying words (songs, jingles, instrumentals)
- dramatic works, including any accompanying music (plays, operas, skits)
- pantomimes and choreographic works (ballads, modern dance, jazz dance)
- pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works (posters, postage stamps, photos, maps, paintings)
- sound recordings (recordings of music, drama, and lectures)
- motion pictures and other audiovisual works
- architectural works (buildings, architectural plans, drawings)
- vessel hull design
How long is the term of a copyright?
For works created on or after January 1, 1978: A work is copyrighted for the life of the author plus 70 years.
For pre-1978 works still protected by their original or renewed copyright: The total length of their copyright is extended to 95 years from the date the copyright was originally secured.