The Young Dramatists Issue 1
Copyright 101

“Copyright is a type of intellectual property that protects original works of authorship as soon as an author fixes the work in a tangible form of expression. In copyright law, there are a lot of different types of works, including paintings, photographs, illustrations, musical compositions, sound recordings, computer programs, books, poems, blog posts, movies, architectural works, plays, and so much more.”


multi-colored Copyright logos floating against a blue background

Copyright is the law of the land passed by Congress and overseen by the United States Copyright Office. The law exists so writers can profit from their work, enabling them to create new work that will eventually belong to everyone. The Copyright Law thus recognizes that writing is valuable work and contributes to the artistic legacy of our country. Copyright Law makes it illegal to use, without permission, an author’s original work for his/her/their lifetime plus 70 years.

Anyone who writes or records original material has a copyright in their writing, whether it’s a play, libretto, lyric, or musical composition. Owning the copyright provides the author the ability to negotiate fair contracts for the use of their work, and everyone who licenses and performs such work must abide by those contracts.

While you do not have to register your copyright with United States Government to retain your rights, it is better if you do so.

Learn more on our Copyright 101 webpage.