Copyright Law can be fairly complex and confusing if not properly explained. Fundamentally, a copyright is a form of protection provided by the government of the United States to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. Copyright protection is available for all unpublished works, regardless of the nationality or residence of the author. Copyright protects the author’s original expression as contained in the work but does not usually extend to any idea, procedure, process, method, system, discovery, name or title.

A copyright is the exclusive, legally secured right to reproduce (as by writing or printing), publish, and sell the matter and form of a literary, musical, or artistic work (as by dramatizing, novelizing, performing or reciting in public, or filming) for a period in the U.S. of 28 years with a right of renewal for another 28 years. The owner of copyright has the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do the following by the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress:

  • To reproduce copies of the original work;
  • To prepare derivative works or “spinoffs” that are based on the original;
  • To distribute copies of the work, by sale, transfer, licensing or lending;
  • To publicly perform or display the copyrighted work; and
  • To prevent the intentional modification, distortion or mutilation of any work of the visual arts that would harm the artist’s reputation or honor and to prevent the destruction of a well-recognized and protected work.


Howard M. Cohn & Associates has extensive and varied experience in all aspects of Intellectual Property law, with a unique specialty in patent and trademark preparation and prosecution. Schedule an appointment or call us at 800-613-1067.