An intellectual property (www.practicallaw.com/5-382-3549) right that protects original works of authorship, including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic and certain other intellectual works. Copyright protection does not extend to ideas, procedures, processes, systems, methods of operation, concepts, principles or discoveries. In the US, copyright law is governed by the federal Copyright Act (www.practicallaw.com/7-501-4687) (17 U.S.C. §§ 101-810).
Copyright owners generally enjoy certain exclusive rights, including the right to:
Reproduce the work (including making electronic copies).
Create adaptations (derivative works) based on the work.
Distribute copies of the work (by sale or rental).
Copyright protection automatically commences when a protected work is first fixed in a tangible medium (for example, written on paper, stored in computer memory or recorded on film) and lasts for a set period, most often the life of the author plus 70 years. Registration of a copyright with the US Copyright Office (www.practicallaw.com/5-385-5776) is not required to secure a copyright, although registration provides additional benefits.
For further information, see Practice Note, Intellectual Property: Overview: Copyrights (www.practicallaw.com/8-383-4565).