U.S. Copyright Law Basics


Copyright protection grants to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works certain exclusive rights, subject to certain exclusions, to do the following:

  • To reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords;
  • To prepare derivative works based upon the work;
  • To distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
  • To perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
  • To display the copyrighted work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work; and
  • In the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.

Under the Berne Convention, copyright registration is not required to establish copyrights. However, in the U.S., copyright registration is required before using the courts to enforce copyrights.




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