Title 17 United States Code
If you REALLY want to read it all, here it is - every right, restriction, exemption, detail, fine, etc. Knock yourself out!
"The Congress shall have the Power ...to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."
United States Constitution, art. I, Sec. 8, cl. 8
What are "exclusive rights"?
- Reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords
- Produce derivative works based upon the copyrighted work
- Distribute copies of the copyrighted work
- Perform the work publicly
- Display the work publicly
What does copyright protect?
- Literary works
- Musical works and accompanying words
- Dramatic works and accompanying music
- Pantomimes and choreagraphed works
- Pictoral, graphic, and sculptural works
- Motion pictures and other audiovisual works
- Sound recordings
- Architectural works
The following are NOT protected by copyright
- Ideas, procedures, processes, systems, methods, concepts
When does copyright protection begin?
As soon as a work is fixed in a tangible form it is protected by copyright. No registration is required!
How long does copyright protection last?
Currently, works enjoy copyright protection for the life of the author plus 70 years. Once copyright has expired the work enters the public domain. Works within the public domain may be freely used by anyone and everyone. But wait! It is not as simple as it sounds. Changes in copyright law over many years have created many different scenarios for determining whether a work falls within the public domain. See some of the following resources to determine if a work is protected or is in the public domain.
If a work is not in the public domain permission is required to use it. But wait! There are exceptions and limitations to exclusive rights!
- Section 107 - Fair Use
- Section 110 - TEACH