The purpose of the Copyright Act of 1976 is to safeguard the title in original works of authorship now known or later developed, and is fixed in any tangible medium of expression, for the purpose of reproduction, or communication in another form, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. Such original works shall include the following categories:
- literary works;
- musical works, including any accompanying words;
- dramatic works, including any accompanying music;
- pantomimes and choreographic works;
- pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
- motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
- sound recordings; and
- architectural works.
Copyright protection for an original work of authorship does not extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, not considering the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work.
Copyright may apply to a wide range of creative, intellectual, scientific, or artistic forms, or “works”. Specifics may vary by jurisdiction, but these can include poems, theses, plays, other literary works, movies, dances, musical compositions, audio recordings, paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, software, radio and television and broadcasts.
The direct effect of the copyright law is to secure a fair return for an author’s creative labor. However, the final intention of the law is to stimulate artistic creativity for the general public good. It ensures reasonable return to authors and inventors. The law also establishes incentives for development, with distribution, which seeks to encourage learning, progress, and development.