Copyright is a fundamental aspect of intellectual property law that grants exclusive rights to creators and safeguards their original works.

However, not all creative expressions are eligible for copyright protection.

Knowledge of copyright laws is crucial for authors in any creative field.

This article orbits around what is eligible for copyright and gives you useful insight into it.

What is a Copyright?

Merriam-Webster defines copyright in the following fashion:

the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, sell, or distribute the matter and form of something (such as a literary, musical, or artistic work)

In simple terms,

An exclusive right to the use and dissemination of their work is given to the authors of original creative works by legal protection known as copyright.

It provides content creators with the authority to control how their work is used and to financially benefit from its exploitation.

It applies to a broad spectrum of artistic creations. This includes books, paintings, music, and plays, as well as movies, computer programs, and architectural designs.


The moment the musician creates the song, they automatically hold the copyright to it.

This entitles them to the sole use of the song for public performance, distribution, and the creation of derivative works (such as remixes or covers).

If someone else wants to use the song in their own project, they would typically need to seek permission from the musician and potentially negotiate licensing terms or payment.

The musician can use the copyright to prevent illegal use or infringement of their work.

It also allows them to monetise their creation by selling copies of the song, licensing it for use in commercials or films, or receiving royalties from streaming platforms.

Without copyright protection, anyone could freely use or profit from the musician’s song without their consent, which would undermine their creative and financial interests.

What is Eligible for a Copyright?

Various types of creative works can be eligible for copyright protection. Some common examples include:

  1. Literary Works: This category includes novels, poems, plays, essays, articles, and other written content.
  2. Artistic Works: Paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, and other visual artworks can be protected by copyright.
  3. Music and Musical Compositions: Original musical compositions, including lyrics and melodies, as well as sound recordings, are eligible for copyright.
  4. Films and Audiovisual Works: Motion pictures, documentaries, animations, television shows, and other audiovisual content can be copyrighted.
  5. Choreographic Works: Original dance routines and choreography can be protected under copyright law.
  6. Architectural Works: Unique architectural designs, blueprints, and plans can be eligible for copyright protection.
  7. Software and Computer Programs: Original software code and computer programs can be copyrighted.
  8. Website Content: Written content, graphics, images, and multimedia elements on websites can be subject to copyright protection.
  9. Performances: Live performances, theatrical performances, and other artistic presentations can be protected by copyright.
  10. Compilation Works: Collections of creative works, such as anthologies, encyclopedias, and databases, can be eligible for copyright.
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It’s vital to keep in mind that copyright protection often only covers ideas’ creative expressions and not the ideas themselves.

Additionally, laws may vary between countries, so it’s essential to seek legal advice in your jurisdiction.

What Falls Outside the Scope of Copyright Protection?

While many creative works can be protected by copyrights, there are some that typically cannot.

These include:

  1. Ideas, concepts, and principles: Copyright protects the expression of ideas, but it does not protect the ideas themselves. Ideas can be freely used and developed by others.
  2. Facts and information: Copyright does not protect factual information, such as historical events, scientific discoveries, or general knowledge. However, the specific expression or arrangement of facts may be protected.
  3. Titles, names, and short phrases: Copyright does not protect short and common phrases, titles, or names. They might be covered by trademark protection or other types of intellectual property security.
  4. Utilitarian objects and functional designs: Copyright does not protect the functional aspects of objects, such as furniture, clothing, or industrial designs. These might be eligible for additional IP protection measures like design rights or patents.
  5. Government works: Often, works produced by the government or its employees while performing their official obligations are not protected by copyright.
    However, specific countries may have different rules regarding government work.
  6. Works in the public domain: A work enters the public domain after its copyright term expires since copyright protection has a finite lifespan. Public domain works can be freely used and copied by anyone.

It’s important to seek legal advice for a comprehensive understanding of what can and cannot be copyrighted in your jurisdiction.

Requirements for Copyright Protection

There are typically three essential conditions that must be met to get copyright protection:

1. Originality Requirement: The work must be original, meaning it should be independently created by the author and possess some degree of creativity.

It shouldn’t be an exact replica or ripoff of someone else’s creation.

2. Fixation Requirement: The work must be fixed in a tangible form, such as a written manuscript, a recorded audio or video, a painting, or a digital file. It should exist in a physical or digital medium that allows it to be perceived, reproduced, or communicated.

3. Minimal degree of creativity: While the level of creativity required is generally low, the work should exhibit a minimal level of creativity, effort, or artistic expression. It does not have to be groundbreaking or highly innovative, but it should demonstrate some creative choices made by the author.

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It is significant to note that because copyright rules vary depending on the jurisdiction, these requirements could fluctuate slightly between nations.

Consulting the IP laws of your specific country is recommended for accurate information and guidance.

What are the Legal Protections Provided by a Copyright?

Copyright provides several key protections for the creators of original works. These protections include:

  1. Exclusive rights: Copyright grants the original creator exclusive rights over their work, allowing them to control how it is used, reproduced, distributed, displayed, performed, and modified.
  2. Reproduction rights: Copyright laws grant the creator exclusive permission to reproduce their work, regardless of its physical or digital format. This means others cannot reproduce the work without the creator’s permission.
  3. Distribution rights: Copyright enables the content creator to control the distribution of their work, deciding how it is made available to the public, whether through physical copies, digital downloads, streaming platforms, or other means.
  4. Derivative work rights: Copyright protects the creator’s right to create derivative works based on their original work. This includes adaptations, translations, remixes, and other transformative versions of the original.
  5. Public performance and display rights: Copyright grants the creator the authority to control public performances or displays of their work, such as in concerts, exhibitions, or broadcasts.
  6. Moral rights: In some jurisdictions, copyright also encompasses moral rights, which protect the creator’s reputation and integrity. These rights include the right to be attributed as the author and the right to object to any modifications or distortions that may harm the creator’s reputation.
  7. Legal remedies: Copyright infringement can lead to legal consequences. If someone uses copyrighted content without permission, the copyright holder can take legal action to seek remedies, such as injunctions, damages, or the cessation of the infringing activity.

These protections collectively safeguard the content creator’s rights and provide them with the ability to control and benefit from their creative works.

It encourages innovation, rewards creativity, and fosters a thriving creative industry.

Related Article: Rights of a Copyright Owner

Is it Challenging to Adhere to Copyright Protection Rules?

No, meeting the requirements for copyright protection is not difficult.

Unlike the requirements for patent law or trademark protection, satisfying the criteria for copyright protection is relatively straightforward.

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The Key requirements, which are originality and fixation, are generally easy to fulfill for most works eligible for copyright.

It is crucial to remember that copyright protection is inherent and does not need the work to be registered with the proper copyright office or the posting of a copyright notice.

While registration of copyright and including a notice can provide additional benefits and legal advantages, they are not mandatory for obtaining legal protection.

As long as a work is original and fixed in a tangible form, it is eligible for protection.


Copyright provides valuable protection for a wide range of creative works.

As the copyright owner, you have the exclusive rights to control the use and distribution of your subject matter. This includes literary works, musical compositions, artistic creations, and much more.

Copyright eligibility is based on the originality and fixation of the work in a tangible medium of expression.

Remember that ideas are not protected by copyright; rather, the expression of ideas is.

Understanding the scope of copyright law and its methods of operation is crucial for safeguarding your creative endeavors and ensuring proper recognition and compensation for your copyright-protected works.


What are the conditions for copyright registration?

Copyright registration typically requires the work to be original and fixed in a tangible form. However, registration is not mandatory to obtain copyright protection.

What is the basis for copyright protection?

The protection is based on the originality and expression of creative works. This includes but is not limited to, works of art, music, theatre, and literature.

What are copyright limitations?

Copyright limitations refer to the restrictions on the exclusive rights granted to the copyright owner.

These limitations allow for fair use, educational use, parody, and other circumstances where limited use of copyrighted material is permitted.

Name the things that can be copyrighted.

Various works can be copyrighted, including literary works, songs, movies, photographs, paintings, sculptures, architectural designs, software code, and more.

Is copyright offers protection for ideas?

No, copyright protection does not extend to ideas themselves. It protects the expression of ideas in a tangible form but not the underlying concepts or ideas.