Copyrights are a form of intellectual property granted by the U.S. Copyright office that covers creative products including songs, books, films and more. Copyright protection is available for both published and unpublished works and is valid for 70 years after the protected work's author's death.
The U.S. Copyright Office provides a concise introductory guide to copyrights and copyright law.
An U.S. copyright grants six specific rights. As stated by the U.S. Copyright Office, those rights are:
To reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords;
To prepare derivative works based upon the work;
To distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
To perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
To display the copyrighted work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work; and
In the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.
A copyright holder may license his/her copyrighted material, or license specific rights individually. For example, in the music industry, songwriters often license to record labels the right to “reproduce [a] work in copies or phonorecords.” In the music industry, this right is known as the mechanical right.