What Works Are Protected

Updated February 11, 2017 | Infoplease Staff

Copyright protects “original works of authorship” that are fixed in a tangible form of expression. The fixation need not be directly perceptible so long as it may be communicated with the aid of a machine or device. Categories include:

  • literary works;
  • musical works, including any accompanying words;
  • dramatic works, including any accompanying music;
  • pantomimes and choreographic works;
  • pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
  • motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
  • sound recordings; and
  • architectural works.

These categories should be viewed quite broadly. For example, computer programs and most “compilations” are registrable as “literary works.” Maps and architectural plans are registrable as “pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works.”

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