Copyright law deals with the creation, reproduction, distribution, performance, and display of creative or expressive works. Eight types of works are copyrightable:
A work is copyrighted once it has been fixed in a tangible form of expression, such as being written or recorded. After March 1, 1989, works no longer require a copyright notice or registration to receive protection.
Many things cannot be copyrighted:
Works created on or after January 1, 1978 are protected for a term of the life of the author plus 70 years. Corporate authors receive 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation. Works created and published prior to 1978 vary in term: do not assume these have entered the public domain. See ALA's digital copyright slider for specifics.