Copyright is a form of protection provided to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do the following: reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords; prepare derivative works based upon the work; distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other; transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending; perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works; display the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work; and perform the work publicly (in the case of sound recordings) by means of a digital audio transmission.
In general, copyright registration is a legal formality intended to make a public record of the basic facts of a particular copyright. However, registration is not a condition of copyright protection. Even though registration is not a requirement for protection, the copyright law provides several inducements or advantages to encourage copyright owners to make registration. Among these advantages are the following: registration establishes a public record of the copyright claim; before an infringement suit may be filed in court, registration is necessary for works of U. S. origin; if made before or within five years of publication, registration will establish prima facie evidence in court of the validity of the copyright and of the facts stated in the certificate; lf registration is made within three months after publication of the work or prior to an infringement of the work, statutory damages and attorney’s fees may be available to the copyright owner in court actions.
More information on copyrights may be found at the United States Copyright Office.