original work of authorship

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To receive copyright protection, the work must be, among other things, an original work of authorship. 17 U.S.C § 102 offers examples of works of authorship. These are:

  • Literary works

  • Musical works and accompanying words

  • Dramatic works and accompanying music

  • Pantomimes and choreography

  • Pictures, graphics and sculptures

  • Movies and audiovisual works

  • Sound recordings

  • Architecture

The work of authorship must be fixed in a tangible medium of expression from which the work can be perceived, reproduced or otherwise communicated either directly or with the help of a machine or device. Ideas, procedures, proccesses, systems, methods of operation, concepts, principles, or discoveries are not copyrightable, regardless of their form.

[Last updated in July of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]