A copyright is a form of intellectual property that grants the copyright holder certain rights in original creative expressions. Importantly, for something to be protected by copyright, it must be both original and a creative expression. It must also exist in a fixed form. Many things may fit this definition including audio and video recordings, written material, sculptures, and paintings. Generally, copyrights are associated with artistic works. However, software code may also be the subject of copyright protection. Things that have no creative element or are ephemeral may not be the subject of a copyright, such as simple blank form or live performances. However, subject matter not protectable with a copyright may be protected by other kinds of intellectual property, such as patents or trademarks.
Interestingly, many creators of copyright protected work may actually own copyrights with even being aware of it. This is because a copyright interest is automatically granted upon creation of an eligible work. While there are significant benefits available to copyright holders who register their copyright with the government, it is important to remember that the creator of copyright eligible work often has a copyright interest in their creation even without registration.
More information about copyrights may be found at the US copyright office website.
Kelly G. Swartz is an intellectual property attorney practicing in Melbourne, FL. Her firm, Ingenuity Law, focuses on intellectual property issues including, patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets.