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:

  • 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.