The legal ownership of a "work," which can take any of the following forms: written text, program source code, graphics images, sculpture, music, sound recording, motion picture, pantomime, choreograph and architecture. Before January 1, 1978, a work had to be published to be copyrighted. After that date, any work expressed in paper or electronic form is automatically copyrighted for the life of the author plus 70 years. Registration with the Copyright Office is not required, although it is beneficial if there are disputes later on. In the U.S., a copyright symbol is not mandatory, but recommended.|
For works by an anonymous author or an author who uses a fictitious name (pseudonymous) as well as works "made for hire," such as a publication written by an employee of a company, the copyright lasts 120 years from date of creation or 95 years from date of publication, whichever is shorter. For more information, visit www.copyright.gov. See fair use doctrine, Creative Commons, copyleft, trademarks, DRM and image protection.