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Motion Pictures; Audiovisual Works

An audiovisual work consisting of a series of related images that impart an impression of motion when shown in succession along with accompanying sounds is called a motion picture.  The work may be embodied in material objects such as films or tapes and intended to be shown by using machines or devices like projectors, viewers, or electronic equipment.

Motion pictures and other audiovisual works are entitled to copyright protection under U.S. law.  The category “audiovisual work” covers a wide range of cinematographic works embodied in films, tapes, video discs, and other media.  However, it does not include live telecasts that are not fixed simultaneously with their transmission.  News events are generally not subject to protection under copyright laws, but a motion picture or videotape depicting a particular event is copyrightable.

Whether “true artistic skill” was used in determining “originality” of an audiovisual work for purposes of copyright protection is irrelevant.  For example, a videotape of a Mardi Gras-style parade and musical jam session prepared by a public television station was found to be more than a mere “mechanical fixation.”   Rather, it was found to be an independent work of authorship entitled to copyright protection becasue the employees of the station worked cooperatively with performers instead of just setting up a camera on a tripod.

Inside Motion Pictures; Audiovisual Works