Copyright protection exists in original works of authorship that are fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Among types of works that are subject to copyright protection are literary, dramatic, musical, choreographic, pictorial, graphic, pantomime, sound recording, sculptural, motion picture, audio-visual, computer programs, databases, electronic information and web sites. Copyright protection does not include facts, ideas, procedures, processes, systems, concepts, principles or discoveries, although these may be protectable under patent or trade secret laws. However, the literary or other form of expression and detailed organization of these ideas are covered by copyright.
Most works contain a copyright notice. Because copyright ownership can be transferred after publication, a work may not identify the current copyright owner. Contacting the publisher is a good first step in identifying current ownership. For unpublished works, permission to copy should be obtained from the author of a work. The absence of a copyright notice does not mean that the work in question can be freely copied. Works published after March 1, 1989 are not required to carry a copyrighted notice in order to be protected under law.
Civil and criminal penalties may be imposed for copyright infringement. Civil remedies can include an award of monetary damages (substantial statutory damages may total considerably more).
If portions of a copyright work are used in education, there is a defense from copyright called fair use.