Protected works

Copyright basics

Copyright applies to all original works in a fixed format, including drafts, incomplete works, and final published works. Facts, titles, names and short word combinations and factual information are not usually protected by copyright.

Some examples of protected works include:

  • literary works: books, pamphlets, websites, blog posts, poems and other works consisting of text, tables, computer programs, and compilations of literary works;
  • dramatic works: films, videos, plays, screenplays, and scripts;
  • musical works: compositions that consist of both words and music or music only (note that lyrics without music fall into the literary works category);
  • artistic works: photographs, paintings, drawings, maps, plans, engravings, sculptures, works of artistic craftsmanship, and architectural works;
  • performer's performance: performers such as actors, musicians, dancers, and singers have copyrights in their performances;
  • communication signals: broadcasters have copyrights in the communications' signals that are broadcast;
  • sound recordings: makers of recordings, such as records, cassettes, and compact discs, which are called "sound recordings" in the Copyright Act, are also protected by copyright.

Original works are protected by copyright regardless of whether or not the © copyright symbol appears.

Should you have any questions please contact the Copyright Office.

The Copyright Office makes every effort to provide accurate information but does not offer it as counsel or legal advice.