What Is a Copyright?
What Types of Copyrightable Works Can Be Registered With the Copyright Office?
- Literary works including books, novels, short stories, poetry, and other writings;
- Musical works, also referred to as musical compositions, including music lyrics, sheet music, and music recordings in the form of phonorecords, e.g., a CD (the author of a musical composition is the music composer and the lyricist, if any);
- Dramatic works including scripts created for television, radio, or motion pictures, choreographic works of dance movements, and pantomimes acting out or imitating characters, events, or situations;
- Motion pictures, video recordings, and other audiovisual works;
- Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works including photographs, paintings, drawings, graphic designs and computer artwork, sculptures, jewelry designs, comic strips, greeting cards, fabric designs, toys, dolls, games, and other visual artworks including three-dimensional artworks;
- Architectural works including architectural drawings, models, and plans and constructed buildings; and
- Sound recordings including recordings of dramatic performances, lectures, and music (the author of a sound recording is the performer(s) or record producer who processes and fixes the sounds in the recording, as distinguished from a copyright for a musical composition that does not protect the actual recorded performance of the performer but only the underlying musical composition).
Not all copyrightable works are purely artistic in nature. Examples of commercial works that may be protected by copyright through registration with the Copyright Office include software code and computer programs, product labels, websites, artwork applied to clothing, product packaging artwork, advertising and promotional literature, mechanical and technical drawings, instruction manuals, and text, graphic designs, photographs, and other artwork used in the advertisement, promotion, and/or packaging of a product or service.
What Types of Subject Matter Will Not Be Registered By the Copyright Office?
- concepts, discoveries, devices, ideas, methods, principles, procedures, processes, or systems (as distinguished from a written, visual, or audiovisual description, explanation, or illustration of one of the foregoing);
- titles, short phrases, slogans, and names;
- works consisting entirely of information in the public domain and containing no original authorship (e.g., standard calendars, and lists taken from government documents or other common sources);
- familiar designs and symbols;
- variations of typographic lettering and ornamentation;
- listings of ingredients; and
- works that have not been fixed in a tangible form (e.g., unrecorded performances and speeches).
When Does a Copyright Expire?
Can Rights to a Copyright Be Granted to Another Person or Business Entity?
Without transferring ownership rights in a copyright, limited rights to display or perform the work publicly (including by digital transmission), reproduce the copyrightable work, distribute copies or phonorecords of the work, or prepare derivative works based on the original copyrightable work may be granted by the copyright owner to a licensee that is another person or a business entity by means of a copyright license agreement.
Does the Copyright Office Enforce a Copyright Owner’s Copyright Rights Against Infringers?
What Happens Once a Copyright Expires?
Can a Copyrightable Work Be Protected By a “Poor Man’s Copyright”?
Can Copyrights Be Protected in Foreign Countries?
Please contact one of our attorneys if we may assist you in the preparation and filing of a copyright application or with the drafting or negotiation of a work for hire agreement or copyright license agreement.