Glossary of Common Copyright Terms

A 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. A copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created in fixed form.

Copyright Owners' Rights

Works Protected by Copyright

 


 

Architectural Works
    The design of a building as embodied in any tangible medium of expression, including a building, architectural plans, or drawings. The work includes the overall form as well as the arrangement and composition of spaces and elements in the design, but does not include individual standard features.

Audiovisual Works
    Works that consist of a series of related images which are intrinsically intended to be shown by the use of machines or devices such as projectors, viewers, or electronic equipment, together with accompanying sounds, if any, regardless of the nature of the material objects, such as films or tapes, in which the works are embodied.

Authorship
    Person that created the original material

Created
    A work is "created" when it is fixed in a copy or phonorecord for the first time; where a work is prepared over a period of time, the portion of it that has been fixed at any particular time constitutes the work as of that time, and where the work has been prepared in different versions, each version constitutes a separate work.

Distribution Right
    To distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease or lending.

Dramatic Works
    Includes plays, operas, and scripts.

Fixed
    A work is "fixed" in a tangible medium of expression when its embodiment in a copy or phonorecord, by or under the authority of the author, is sufficiently permanent or stable to permit it to be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated for a period of more than transitory duration. A work consisting of sounds, images, or both, that are being transmitted, is "fixed" for purposes of this title if a fixation of the work is being made simultaneously with its transmission.

Literary Works
    Works, other than audiovisual works, expressed in words, numbers, or other verbal or numerical symbols or indicia, regardless of the nature of the material objects, such as books, periodicals, manuscripts, phonorecords, film, tapes, disks, or cards, in which they are embodied. Includes computer programs.

Modification/Derivative Right
    A "derivative work" is a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications, which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a "derivative work".

Motion Pictures
    Audiovisual works consisting of a series of related images which, when shown in succession, impart an impression of motion, together with accompanying sounds, if any.

Mulitmedia Works
    Created with visual images with text (photos, video, film clips) combined with sound (music, speech, drama performances).

Musical Works
    Includes songs and their lyrics, advertisement jingles, and instrumentals.

Ownership
    Person or group that has rights to control use of material

Pantomimes and Choreographic Works
    Includes ballets, modern dance, jazz dance, and mime works.

Perform a Work
    Means to recite, render, play, dance, or act it, either directly or by means of any device or process or, in the case of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to show its images in any sequence or to make the sounds accompanying it, audible.

Phonorecords
    Material objects in which sounds, other than those accompanying a motion picture or other audiovisual work, are fixed by any method now known or later developed, and from which the sounds can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. The term "phonorecords" includes the material object in which the sounds are first fixed.

Pictorial, Graphic, and Sculptural Works
    Includes two-dimensional and three-dimensional works of fine, graphic, and applied art, photographs, prints and art reproductions, maps, globes, charts, diagrams, models, and technical drawings, including architectural plans. Such works shall include works of artistic craftsmanship insofar as their form but not their mechanical or utilitarian aspects are concerned; the design of a useful article, as defined in this section, shall be considered a pictorial, graphic or sculptural work only if, and only to the extent that, such design incorporates pictorial, graphics, or sculptural features that can be identified separately from, and are capable of existing independently of the utilitarian aspects of the article.

Pseudonymous Work
    Is a work on the copies or phonorecords of which the author is identified under a fictitious name.

Public Display Right
    To display a copyrighted work publicly, in the case of literary, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works.

Public Domain Works
    Includes works with expired copyrights, US government work, or when author dedicates their work to public domain.

    ** Just because work is on the Internet does not mean it is Public Domain **

Public Performance Right
    To perform the copyrighted work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works.
To perform or display a work "publicly" means

  1. to perform or display it at a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered; or
  2. to transmit or otherwise communicate a performance or display of the work to a place specified by clause (1) or to the public, by means of any device or process, (7) whether the members of the public capable of receiving the performance or display receive it in the same place or in separate places and at the same time or at different times.

Publication
    The distribution of copies or phonorecords of a work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending. The offering to distribute copies or phonorecords to a group of persons for purposes of further distribution, public performance, or public display, constitutes publication. A public performance or display of a work does not of itself constitute publication.

Reproduction Right
    To reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords.

Sound Recordings
    Works that result from the fixation of a series of musical, spoken, or other sounds, but not including the sounds accompanying a motion picture or other audiovisual work, regardless of the nature of the material objects, such as disks, tapes, or other phonorecords, in which they are embodied.

Work for Hire

  1. a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment; or
  2. a work specially ordered or commissioned for use as a contribution to a collective work, as a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, as a translation, as a supplementary work, as a compilation, as an instructional text, as a test, as answer material for a test, or as an atlas, if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire.

 

These and more definitions can be found at the US Copyright Office web site.

Benjamin Merrell / Copyright Specialist / 541.737.3978 / benjamin.merrell@oregonstate.edu