The owner of a copyright has the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do the following:
Reproduce the work
Prepare derivative works based on the work
Distribute copies of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, such as by rental, lease or lending
Perform the work publicly. This applies to literary, musical, dramatic and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works
Display the copyrighted work publicly. This applies to literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work
What works are protected by copyright?
Copyright protects "original works of authorship" that are fixed in a tangible form including the following:
Musical works, including any accompanying words
Dramatic works, including any accompanying music
Pantomimes and choreographic works
Pictorial, graphic and sculptural works
Motion pictures and other audiovisual works
These categories should be viewed broadly. For example, computer code and many "compilations" may be registered as "literary works." Maps and architectural plans may be registered as "pictorial, graphic and sculptural works."
Does copyright protect a name, title, slogan, logo or idea?
Copyright does not protect names, titles, slogans, or short phrases. In some cases, these things may be protected as trademarks. LegalZoom can assist you in registering a trademark. However, copyright protection may be appropriate for logo art work that contains sufficient creativity. In some circumstances, a logo may receive both copyright and trademark protection.
Copyright does not protect ideas, concepts, systems or methods of doing something. You may express your ideas in writing or drawings and claim copyright in your expression. Be aware that a copyright will not protect the idea itself as revealed in your written or artistic work. Put simply: copyright protects expressions, not ideas.
1. Definition of a Copyright
A copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States to authors of "original works of authorship." This includes literary, dramatic, musical, artistic and certain other creative works. Material not protected by copyright (or otherwise protected) is available for use by anyone without the author's consent. A copyright holder can prevent others from copying, performing or otherwise using the work without his or her consent.
Our copyright Education Center provides all the resources you need to understand the various types of copyrightable works and the benefits conferred by copyright registration. The Education Center and FAQs should answer most of your questions.
Using LegalZoom, you can apply to register a copyright at your convenience simply by answering a few questions online and sending us a copy of your work. We will file the entire application package for you with the US Copyright Office.
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2. Works Protected by Copyrights
A copyright gives certain exclusive rights to persons who create original works of authorship, including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. Copyrightable works include the following categories:
1. literary works
2. musical works, including any accompanying words
3. dramatic works, including any accompanying music
4. pantomimes and choreographic works
5. pictorial, graphic and sculptural works
6. motion pictures and other audiovisual works
7. sound recordings
8. architectural plans, drawings and actual buildings
These categories should be viewed broadly. For example, the code used to create computer programs may be registered as a "literary work." Maps and architectural plans may be registered as "pictorial,…