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•Original works of authorship (e.g. diary, software program, script & song)
•Fixed in any tangible medium of expression (buildings, digital or analog recordings, books, paintings)
•From which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated (photographed, recorded, scanned, copied, reposted)
•Either directly or with the aid of a machine (verbally transmitting someone’s work, creating copy of artwork, scanning & distributing web pages or documents)
What's not protected?
•Ideas and facts
•Works in the public domain, federal government works, unfixed works (those that have not been recorded in a fixed form- like a song you made up, or the idea for a screenplay you never actually wrote down)
•Titles, names, short phrases, processes, systems, and slogans
•Familiar designs, numbers, lettering, fonts, and symbols
Copyright- History and the Letter of the Law
Copyright protection has behind it Constitutional Authority because of the importance placed on the creation of new ideas and inventions in an emerging country, and has precedent in the US as far back as 1710.
Article 1, Section 8 of the US constitution says ' The Congress shall have the power…To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries…”
Article 1, Section 8 tells us that copyright is meant to ensure and encourage commerce. Part of the incentive to produce something- be it a poem, a painting, or an epic work of fiction, is that you will eventually be rewarded for your efforts. Copyright provides assurances that allow artists, writers, and other creative types to produce work. It protects the livlihood of creators, and ensures that they will receive credit for their work. Without copyright, there would be less motivation to create for the market, because anyone could just steal your idea and profit off of it (either fanancially, or professionally). Copyright ensures that an idea has certain protections, which enable the creator to control their work for a given period of time.
The Mission of the Copyright Office—”promote creativity by administering and sustaining an effective national copyright system”