Works that have not been fixed in a tangible form
of expression
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, procedures, methods, systems, processes,
concepts, principles, discoveries, or devices, as
distinguished from a description, explanation, or
Works consisting entirely of information that is
common property and containing no original
authorship; for example: standard calendars,
height and weight charts, tape measures and
rules, and lists or tables taken from public
documents or other common sources
Copyright Secured Automatically
upon Creation
The way that copyright protection is secured is
frequently misunderstood. No publication or
registration or other action in the Copyright Office is
required to secure a copyright under the law. Copyright
is secured automatically when the work is created, and
a work is "created" when it is fixed in a copy or imaging
recording for the first time. In general, "copies" are
material objects from which a work can be read or
visually perceived either directly or with the aid of a
machine or device, such as books, manuscripts, sheet
music, film, videotape, or microfilm. Phonograph
records are material objects embodying fixations of
sounds (excluding, by statutory definition, motion
picture sound tracks), such as audio tapes and
phonograph disks. Thus, for example, a song (the
"work") can be fixed in sheet music (copies) or in audio
recordings, or both.
Notice of Copyright
When a work is published under the authority of the
copyright owner, a notice of copyright should be placed
on all publicly distributed copies. This notice is required
even on works published outside of the United States.
Omission or errors will not necessarily result in
forfeiture of the copyright. Therefore, just because a
copyrightable material does not have a copyright notice
does not mean it is not copyrighted. However, infringers
misled by the omission or error of copyright notice will
be shielded from liability.
How Long Copyright Protection Lasts
The copyright law changed in 1978. The time that
the copyright on original material expires is determined
by when it was created.
­A work that is
created (fixed in tangible form for the first time) on or
after January 1, 1978, is automatically protected from
the moment of its creation. It is ordinarily given a term
enduring for the author's life, plus an additional 50 years
after the author's death. In the case of a joint work
prepared by two or more authors that did not work for
hire, the term lasts for 50 years after the last surviving
author's death. For works made for hire and for
anonymous and pseudonymous (fictitious name) works
(unless the author's identity is revealed in Copyright
Office records), the duration of copyright is 75 years
from publication or 100 years from creation, whichever
is shorter.
Works that were created before the 1978 law came
into effect, but were neither published nor registered for
copyright before January 1, 1978, have been
automatically brought under the statute and are now
provided federal copyright protection. The duration of
copyright for these works is generally computed in the
same way as for new works: the life plus 50 and the 75
or 100 year terms apply to them as well. However, all
works in this category are guaranteed at least 25 years
of statutory protection.
ARY 1, 1978.
­Under the law in effect before 1978,
copyright was secured either on the date a work was
published or on the date of registration if the work was
registered in unpublished form. In either case, the
copyright endured for a first term of 28 years from the
date it was secured. During the last (28th) year of the
first term, the copyright was eligible for renewal. The
new copyright law has extended the renewal term from
28 to 47 years for copyrights that were still in existence
on January 1, 1978.
International Copyright Protection
There is no such thing as an "international
copyright" that will automatically protect an author's
writings throughout the entire world. Protection against
unauthorized use in a particular country depends,
basically, on the national laws of that country. However,
most countries do offer protection to foreign works
under certain conditions, and these conditions have been
greatly simplified by international copyright treaties and

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