There are generally three requirements for a work to be eligible for copyright protection. One requirement is that the work must be original. In addition, the work must be a work of authorship. Finally, the work must be fixed in a tangible medium.

What is the originality requirement for copyright eligibility?

To be original, the author can not copy the work from another source. In addition, the work must possess a minimal amount of creativity (i.e., a “spark of creativity”).

What is a work of authorship for copyright eligibility?

A work of authorship is a work that falls within one of eight (8) categories of eligible works. These categories include: 

  1. Literary works;
  2. Musical works;
  3. Dramatic works;
  4. Pantomimes and choreographic works;
  5. Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
  6. Motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
  7. Sound recordings; and
  8. Architectural works.

What is the fixation requirement for copyright eligibility?

An author achieves fixation by meeting the two requirements below. First, the author must “fix” the work in a “tangible medium of expression.” Second, the fixation must be “more than a transitory period of time.”

Some examples of fixation include a novel written on paper, a painting created on canvas, a recording of a play saved on a recording device, or an article written and saved on a computer. In each of these examples, the captured works are all fixed in tangible form for more than a transitory period of time. Thus, each example meets the fixation requirement under copyright law.

In conclusion, for a work to be eligible for copyright protection, it must be original, a work of authorship, and fixed in tangible form. If these requirements are met, your work can be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.