Copyright is a form of intellectual property protection provided by the laws of the United States for “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, architectural, cartographic, choreographic, pantomimic, pictorial, graphic, sculptural, and audiovisual creations. “Copyright” literally means the right to copy but has come to mean that body of exclusive rights granted by law to copyright owners for protection of their work. Copyright protection does not extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, title, principle, or discovery, which are protectable under patent law. Similarly, names, titles, short phrases, slogans, familiar symbols, mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, coloring, and listings of contents or ingredients are not subject to copyright.
Copyright protection of original works of authorship begins the moment the work is attached to a tangible medium, such as a piece of paper. Although registering an authored work with the U.S. Copyright Office is not required to have a copyright, there are significant benefits in doing so. For instance, if you wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. work, you must have registered the work with the U.S. Copyright Office.