What it is and the significance of the author versus the owner
Copyright is the right of the author of a work or its owner to control any copies or usage of that work.
Copyright is a right protected by federal statute.
The author of a work may be an artist, a composer, a lyricist, a playwright. They may even be 2 or more people. The author is the owner unless a specific arrangement names or makes someone else the owner. Read more about ownership: Copyright Basics (p. 2).
An owner may be another individual, an organization, or a publisher. Read more about transferring ownership: Copyright Basics (p. 6).
Copies may be reproductions or modifications (derivative work). Read more about reproduction: Copyright Basics (p. 1).
What Can Be Copyrighted
A few explicit conditions according to US Copyright Law
An Original Work of Authorship
However the Fair Use Provision permits for some degree of appropriation from other people’s work. Read more: Copyright Basics (p. 1).
A Literary, Dramatic, Musical, Artistic Work
This is a sample list of common types of works.
Intangible works, words, lists, ideas are not protected by copyright.
Copyright protection is automatic as soon as the author of the work establishes a fixed form. When the author puts a work to paper, saves it in an electronic file, pushes it out to the web, etc., that individual has copyright protection.
While use of the copyright symbol is not required, it is a visible reminder that a given work is copyrighted and puts potential infringers on notice.
Publication is Not Required.
Not required, but beneficial
Registration is Not Required.
Registration is a benefit when the owner of a work wishes to enforce or protect their copyright. It is a prerequisite for filing a lawsuit for copyright infringement.
The owner of a work may register a copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office by submitting an application with the appropriate fee and approved copies of the work.