Copyright Basics: What is Copyright Law?

What is Copyright Protected?

When Works Pass into the Public Domain

Copyright Court Decisions (summary)

What is Copyright Protected?
Copyright-Protected Not Copyright-Protected
  • Literary works
  • 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
  • Sound recordings
  • Architectural works
  • Computer software
  • Works that have not been fixed in a tangible form of expression by being written, recorded or captured electronically.
  • Titles, names, short phrases and slogans; familiar symbols or designs; mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering or coloring; mere listings of ingredients or contents.
  • Ideas, facts, data, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts, principles, discoveries or devices, as distinguished from a description, explanation or illustration.
  • Works consisting entirely of information that are natural or self-evident facts, containing no original authorship, such as the white pages of telephone books, standard calendars, height and weight charts and tape measures and rulers.
  • Works created by the U.S. Government.
  • Works for which copyright has expired; works in the public domain.