It is important to know that a federal copyright exists on any original work from the moment of creation. However, by registering a copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office, a copyright holder will be able to take advantage of the benefits provided by the Copyright Act.
The Copyright Act provides for the following exclusive rights of the copyright owner:
The right to reproduce the copyrighted work (for example, to make copies of it)
The right to create derivative works based upon the underlying copyrighted work
The right to sale, lease, or otherwise distribute copies of the copyrighted work
The right to publicly perform the copyrighted works (such as dances, music, or other audiovisual works)
The right to publicly display the copyrighted work
Generally, any original work of authorship that is fixed in a tangible form such as a manuscript, drawing, compact disc, or videotape can enjoy copyright protection. Examples are:
Sculptural and architectural works
What Doesn’t Qualify?
Generally, things not protected by a federal copyright include ideas, methods, and procedures in and of themselves. Some examples:
Songs or poems that have not been written down or recorded (they have not yet been fixed into a tangible form)
Titles, slogans, or names (these are typically protected under the federal trademark laws)
Information taken solely from sources of common knowledge, such as measurements, calendars, and certain lists
It is always important to note, however, that most original artistic creations should be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. The protection provided under these laws is worth much more than the nominal registration fee.