What Works Are Protected?

Examples of copyrightable works 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, which are works that result from the fixation of a series of musical, spoken, or other sounds
  • Architectural works

These categories should be viewed broadly for the purpose of registering your work. For example, computer programs and certain “compilations” can be registered as “literary works”; maps and technical drawings can be registered as “pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works.”

Note: Before 1978, federal copyright was generally secured by publishing a work with an appropriate copyright notice. U.S. works2 that were in the public domain on January 1, 1978, when the 1976 Copyright Act took effect, remain in the public domain under the 1976 Act.

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