The Copyright Act provides protection and exclusive rights to creators for their works:
- The right to reproduce/copy the work
- The right to prepare derivative works (e.g. translations)
- The right to distribute copies of the work by sale or lease or other transfer of ownership
- The right to publicly perform the work
- The right to publicly display the work
- The right to perform audio works publicly by digital means
Copyright protection begins the moment any “original work of authorship is fixed in a tangible medium of expression.” While a copyright notice or registration enhances protection of the owner's rights, it is not required by the U.S. Copyright Office. In order to claim damages in the event of infringement, creators need to register their publication/creation within 90 days. A copy of the work and a small fee must be deposited with the Copyright Office.
Claims for copyright infringement arise when one or more of the exclusive rights belonging to the author or creator occur, but there are exceptions set out in the Copyright Act. Some of these exceptions are: Fair Use (§107 of the Copyright Act), preservation by libraries and archives (§ 108 of the Copyright Act), and performance and display of works in an educational setting (§110 of the Copyright Act).
Peruse the other sections of this Guide to learn more about Copyright Law, exceptions to the law, and other related information.