Exclusive Rights of Copyright

The exclusive rights are outlined in Sec. 106 of the U.S. copyright law as follows:

Subject to section 107 through 121, the owner of copyright under this title has the exclusive rights to do and to authorize any of the following:

  1. to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies of phonorecords;
  2. to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work;
  3. to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease or lending;
  4. in case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works, to perform the copyrighted work publicly;
  5. in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to display the copyrighted work publicly; and
  6. in the case of sound recordings, to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.

If a person other than the copyright holder uses one of the exclusive rights without the authorization of the copyright holder, that person has infringed copyright (unless fair use or another exemption applies).

"Automatic" Copyright

Once an expression is fixed in a tangible medium, it is afforded copyright protection immediately. In the past, to gain copyright protection for a work, it had to be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office and/or contain a copyright notice on the published work. The Berne Convention Implementation Act of 1988 (that went into effect on March 1, 1989) amended the Copyright Act of 1976 by eliminating the registration and notice requirement.

Since copyright is automatic, copyright is the rule rather than the exception. The creator or author must do something in order not to have copyright protection.

Information on this page is from: UW-Madison Libraries; Complete Copyright: An Everyday Guide for Librarians, by Carrie Russell, pp. 2-3; and Creative Commons Deed License 2004 American Library Association.