The U.S. Constitution granted to Congress the power “to promote the progress of science and the useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors, the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.” The copyright laws were enacted to govern the rights granted to authors to protect their writings, and patent law was enacted to govern the rights granted to inventors to protect their discoveries. Over time, the copyright laws were expanded to protect music, sound recordings, pictures and other visual art, movies and other audiovisual works, dramatic and choreographed works, and computer software.  Copyright law protects the expression of ideas, not the ideas themselves. To be eligible for copyright protection, a work must be original and fixed in a tangible medium and be one of the following eight categories of works:

  • literary works, including computer software
  • musical works, including any accompanying words
  • dramatic works, including any accompanying music
  • pantomimes and choreographic works
  • pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
  • motion pictures and other audiovisual works
  • sound recordings
  • architectural works

If you would like to learn more about the policies associated with copyright law, review the UC Copyright webpage

For more information, please contact Sherylle Mills Englander.