What does copyright protection cover?
Get Legal Help Today
Secured with SHA-256 Encryption
UPDATED: Feb 20, 2013
It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.
We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.
Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about legal topics and insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything legal and insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.
Copyright protection exists for original works of authorship that involve some minimal level of creativity. In order to be eligible for copyright protection, the work must be fixed in a tangible medium of expression so that it can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine/device.
Works of Authorship Under Copyright Law
Works of authorship include: (1) literary works; (2) musical works; (3) dramatic works; (4) pantomimes and choreographic works; (5) pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works; (6) motion pictures and other audio-visual works; and (7) sound recordings. Ideas, concepts, principles, or methods of operation are not subject to a copyright, but the original work that is authored or created from such ideas or concepts may become subject to a copyright.
Literary work is a slightly deceiving description with regard to copyright coverage, because it is actually referring to anything that is written and read. For instance, training manuals and materials are often copyrighted by the business that uses them. Programming code is always copyrighted before the designer sells or licenses its use. In fact, even some choreographers will submit both a video recorded copy of a performance as well as a literary outline of the choreography for double copyright protection.
What Copyright Protection Does Not Cover
Unfixed performances are not covered under copyright law. For example, if an improvisational comedian wants to copyright his material, he has to either sound or video record it. Likewise, symphony and dance performances cannot be copyrighted unless they are first recorded using some fixed form. These fixed forms can include sheet music, choreography charts, and, of course, video recordings. This is one of the reasons that many operas and ballet studios do not permit recordings of their performances by the audience.
Another area that copyright does not cover is physical inventions. Things such as machines, pharmaceuticals, computer chips, and even plants are protected by a patent instead. Patents are much shorter lived than a copyright simply because technology changes so quickly. However, many inventors have discovered that they can add some extra protection to their invention through obtaining a copyright. Instead of copyrighting the physical invention, the inventors copyright their blueprints and research materials. This ensures that while their work may be replicated, it cannot be claimed as some else’s work.