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last revised Nov. 27, 2001

definitionspurpose scope acquisitionlifetime of protection legal standards


  • Section 102(a) of the Copyright Act 1 provides that copyright protects "original works of authorship."
    • This is a vague and flexible criteria
  • "fixed in any tangible medium of expression"
    • A work is "fixed" when it is in a form that is permanet or stable enough to allow it to be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated for a period of more than transitory duration.
  • The work must be in a form that it may "be perceived, reproduced or otherwise communicated"
    • Today it makes no difference what the form, manner, or medium of fixation is -- whether it be words, numbers, notes, sounds, pictures, or any other graphic or symbolic indicia, whether embodied in a physical object in written, printed, photographic, sculptural, punched, magnetic, or any other stable form, and whether it is capable of perception directly or by means of any machine or device 'now known or later developed
17 U.S.C. §§ 101-102
H. Rep., p. 52.

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