What is Copyright?

Copyright is the protection of 'original' works of authorship 'fixed' in tangible medium or expression. Even if you don't see a copyright notice, an original work is protected by copyright – whether you find it on the Web, in a book or journal article, or a handout or brochure, on CD-ROM, or any other source. Although no copyright notice or (c) is required for a work to be copyrighted, continued use of the notice is still a good idea in order to inform the public that you are claiming copyright in the work. See the sidebar for more information on copyright registration.


The expression owes its origin to the author. Originality can also mean a detailed organization of ideas. Original works can be expressed as:


Fixation of the original expression in a tangible medium occurs when the expression is made sufficiently permanent or stable to permit it to be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated for a period of more than transitory duration.   The medium can be print, digital, photographic, drawn, diagrammed, or any other medium that can express an author's original work. Unpublished materials, such as dissertations and theses, have full copyright protection.

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Copyright happens instantly at the time an original work becomes fixed in any format.

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