Copyright Protection

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.