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Copyright & Intellectual Property Tutorial

Copyright Eligibility and Registration

Copyright Eligibility

Creative works are eligible for copyright when they meet the following criteria:

  1. Originality ("not taken from any other source")
  2. Authorship (containing a "certain minimum amount of original creative expression" by a human creator)
  3. Fixation ("fixed in any tangible medium of expression")

The types of works that are eligible for copyright include:

  • literary
  • musical
  • dramatic
  • choreographic
  • pictorial, graphic, and sculptural
  • motion pictures and audiovisual
  • sound recordings
  • architectural

Eligibility requirements for copyright protection are codified in federal law: 17 U.S. Code § 102 - Subject matter of copyright: In general.

Copyright Registration

Registering a copyright takes three steps:

  1. Completing an application
  2. Paying a filing fee
  3. Depositing a copy of the work being copyrighted.

The copyright registration process can be completed online via the electronic Copyright Office (eCO). The Copyright Office will also accept registration materials in hard copy (using paper forms).

Resources for Further Reading

Frequently Asked Questions about Copyright from

U.S. Code Title 17 - Copyrights (via Legal Information Institute at Cornell University Law School)