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What works are Protected?

To qualify for copyright protection, a work must be original, and it must be fixed in a tangible medium of expression. The law leaves the phrase "original works or authorship" undefined, but lists eight tangible media of expression:

  1. literary works
  2. musical works, including any accompanying words
  3. dramatic works, including any accompanying music
  4. pantomimes and choreographic works
  5. pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
  6. motion pictures and other audiovisual works
  7. sound recordings
  8. architectural works

Works need not necessarily be completely original to qualify for copyright protection. The law also protects original contributions to derivative works.

The scope of copyright in general is covered in 17 USC §102 and derivative works are covered in §103. Works created or published outside the United States are covered by §104 and §104a.