Copyright law is defined in Title 17 of the United States Code and protects "original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression" for a limited period. Copyright protection affords the creator the legal right to reproduce, distribute, publicly perform, and publicly display their works. Copyright applies both to traditional media (e.g., books, records, etc.) and to digital media (e.g., electronic journals, websites, images) and protects anything set in a fixed format, including, but not limited to, the following:
- literary works
- dramatic works
- musical works
- pantomimes and choreographic works
- pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
- motion pictures and other audiovisual works
- sound recordings
- architectural works
Ownership of a copyrighted work includes the right to control the use of that work during the term of the copyright. Use of such work by others requires either permission from the author or reliance on an exemption to the law, such as the fair use provision. Failure to do one or the other will expose the user to a claim of copyright infringement for which the law provides remedies including payment of money damages to the copyright owner.
Copyright law does not protect ideas, data, or facts.