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What Is a Copyright?

Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. Copyright is available to protect computer software. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of a copyright the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do the following:

  • To reproduce the work in copies or phone records
  • To prepare derivative works based upon the work
  • To distribute the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease or lending
  • To perform the work publicly
  • To display the copyrighted work publicly
  • In the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission

Where Do you Register a Copyright?

You can receive an application form and more information by contacting the Copyright Office – Library of Congress, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, DC 20559-6000, or visit

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