In 1989 the United States joined Europe at the Berne Convention, where it was decided that registration for copyright will no longer be needed- all works of a fixed, creative manner are copyrighted automatically. Thus, the Copyright logo © is not needed (and sometimes not used) on items that do have copyright.
Copyright is automatically granted at the time a new work is created, including works of literature, music, photography and images, and other creative works. Registration or attaching a copyright notice to a work is not required.
Under 17 USCS section 102 the following is protected:
"In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work."
The Digital Copyright Slider is a tool to help determine the copyright status of a work that is first published in the US.
A special thanks to Brad Matthies, Access Services & Digital Commons Librarian at Butler University, for sections of this LibGuide.
Assume the work is protected by copyright unless you can prove it is in public domain.
According to the U.S. Copyright Office, "...copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the Unites States to the authors of original works of authorship, including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works." The protection is available to published and unpublished works. Copyright gives the owner the right to make copies, prepare derivatives, record and distribute, and perform or display the works in public.
The following resources provide additional information on copyright and who can claim copyright over original works:
Never Published, Never Registered Works
|Type of Work||Copyright Term||What is in the Public Domain?|
|Unpublished Works||Life of Author + 70 Years
||Works from authors who died before 1940
|Unpublished Anonymous Works and Works Made for Hire||120 Years from Creation Date||Works created before 1890|
Works Registered or Published in the US
|Date of Publication||Conditions||Copyright Term|
|Before 1923||None||None. In public domain due to copyright expiration|
|1923 - 1977||Published w/o copyright notice||None. In public domain due to failure to comply with fomalities|
|1978 - 1 March 1989||Published w/o notice and no later registration||None. In public domain due to failure to comply with formalities|
|1978 - 1 March 1989||Published w/o notice and with later registration||Life of author + 70 years|
|1923-1989||Published w/ notice||Life of author + 70 years or 95 years if corporate authorship|
|1989 - current||None. All items now copyrighted immediately||Life of author + 70 years or 95 years if corporate authorship|
|Anytime||Work prepared by government employee||None. In public domain (17 US Code Sec. 105)|