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3. Copyright Basics: What's covered?

In order for a work to be covered by copyright, it must be an original work of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression.

There are several types of works that can be protected. They are all listed in Section 102 of the Copyright Act:

literary works web page books
score singer musical works, including any accompanying words
dramatic works, including any accompanying music masks ballet
dancer play pantomimes and choreography
pictorial, graphic and sculptural works sculpture photo
movie tv motion pictures and other audiovisual works
sound recordings earbudsrecord player
buildings bridge architectural works


In addition to these, new formats such as:

have all been determined to be covered by copyright protection.

Not all creative works are covered by copyright.


Works not covered by copyright include:

Works already in the public domain (discussed in detail on tutorial's next page)
  • Moby Dick
  • Shakespeare's plays
  • Beethoven's works


Works not fixed in a tangible medium
  • A song in your head, but not recorded or written down
  • Only the specific expression of an idea is copyrightable
  • 1+1=2
  • George IV died in 1830
  • Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark
Works of the U.S. Government produced by government employees
  • Government reports
  • Acts/Bills of Congress
  • www.whitehouse.gov

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