Are you wondering what types of works are protected by copyright in content creation?

From an intriguing novel, a captivating photograph, to an innovative software, or an infectious piece of music – law safeguards a broad spectrum of creative expressions.

In this blog, we’ll delve into the diverse world of works protected by copyright, helping you understand the boundaries and liberties provided by this important facet of intellectual property law.

Types of Copyright Protection

Copyright protection is applicable to a wide range of creative works that are original and tangible. These include:

Literary Works: Literary works also encompasses computer programs and databases as they are deemed as written texts.

Dramatic Works: Dramatic works cover anything that is intended to be performed, such as plays, screenplays, scripts, and choreographic works.

Musical Works: This includes compositions, song lyrics, and any sheet music.

The owner of the musical works are music director or the lyricist.

Artistic Works: There are many copyrighted works in the artistic landscape.

The works can be paintings, illustrations, graphics, architectures etc.

Sound Recordings: This pertains to the recording of various types of sounds, including spoken words and music. \

Architectural Works: Law protects architectural design in the form of building plans, drawings, or actual buildings.

Derivative Works: These are works that are based on one or more preexisting works, such as translations, musical arrangements, adaptations of novels into movies, and art reproductions.

What Types of Works are Protected by Copyright?

Copyright law protects a wide range of creative, intellectual, or artistic forms, or “works.” These include:

Literary Works

This encompasses books, novels, poems, articles, essays, manuals, directories, and even software and databases.

Essentially, it protects any work expressed in words, numbers, or other verbal or numerical symbols

Musical Works

This includes musical compositions with or without lyrics.

Dramatic Works

This category covers plays, screenplays, scripts, and choreographed works (if they are recorded), as well as any accompanying music.

Pictorial, Graphic, and Sculptural Works

Maps, globes, charts, diagrams, models, and technical drawings are all included in this category along with two- and three-dimensional works of fine, graphic, and applied art.

Motion Pictures and Other Audiovisual Works

This category includes movies, television shows, video games, videos, and any other work that consists of a series of related images that are intended to be shown with the accompaniment of sounds.

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Sound Recordings

This refers to works that result from the fixation of a series of musical, spoken, or other sounds.

Architectural Works

This category covers the design of a building embodied in any tangible medium of expression, including a building, architectural plans, or drawings.

Duration of Copyright Protection

The duration of copyright protection can vary depending on several factors, including the type of work, whether the work is published or unpublished, and the date of the author’s death.

Here are some general rules, mainly based on U.S. copyright law and similar laws in many other countries:

For Individual Works

For works created by an individual, protection lasts for the life of the author, plus an additional 70 years. This rule applies to works that were created on or after January 1, 1978.

For Works Made for Hire, Anonymous, or Pseudonymous Works

If the work is a “work made for hire” (which means it was created by an employee as part of their job or was specially ordered or commissioned and certain other conditions are met), or if the work is anonymous or pseudonymous, the copyright lasts for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first.

For Pre-1978 Works

For works that were created but not published or registered before January 1, 1978, the copyright lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years.

However, even if the author died over 70 years ago, the copyright in an unpublished work lasted until December 31, 2002.

And if such a work was published before December 31, 2002, the copyright will last until December 31, 2047.

These durations apply to copyrights in many countries, including those that are signatories to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.

Procedure for Copyright Application in India

The procedure for copyright registration in India is outlined by the Office of India under the Copyright Act, 1957. Here are the general steps to apply for registration in India:

Prepare Application

Different forms are prescribed for different types of works (e.g., Form-XIV for Literary/ Dramatic, Musical, Artistic works, and Form-XV for Sound Recording and Cinematograph Films).

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Ensure to select the correct form for your work. The application must be signed by the applicant or the advocate in whose favor a Vakalatnama or Power of Attorney has been executed.

Separate Applications for Different Works

If you’re applying for copyright for different types of work (for instance, a song and a script), then you need to make separate applications.

Deposit Copies of Work

Two copies of the work should also be sent along with the application.

Pay the Required Fee

A prescribed fee is payable with each application which varies according to the type of work.

Submission of Application

Copyright application also comes with the fees. If you are submitting the application, you should also submit it with the fee.

Examination of Application

After receiving the application, the Office will scrutinise it for any discrepancies. If any are found, you’ll be allowed a chance to correct it.

Issuance of Diary Number

Once all discrepancies have been corrected, the applicant will be issued a Diary Number.

Wait Period

There’s a mandatory wait period of 30 days to ensure that no objections are raised against the application.

Objection Handling

If an objection is raised, it must be resolved before the copyright registration can proceed. If no objections are raised within the 30 days, the application proceeds to the next stage.


If there are no objections, or once objections have been resolved, the Office will proceed with the registration.

Once the copyright is registered, an extract from the Register of Copyrights is sent to the copyright holder.

Please note that protection is automatic upon creation of a work, and registration is not required to establish protection.

However, registration does provide certain legal benefits, such as evidence of ownership. Always consider consulting with a legal professional when dealing with copyright-related matters.


In conclusion, copyright law casts a wide net, encompassing an array of works from various disciplines – literary, musical, dramatic, artistic, audiovisual, and architectural works, as well as sound recordings and derivative works.

The moment these works are fixed in a tangible form, they are automatically endowed with protection.

This automatic protection provides creators with exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, display, and perform their works, alongside the ability to create derivative works.

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Understanding the scope of protection is invaluable for creators, users, and educators alike, promoting the respectful sharing and consumption of creative content.

With a comprehensive grasp of what types of works are protected by copyright, we can better appreciate and navigate the complex realm of intellectual property rights.

Remember, while registration is not necessary for protection, it provides certain legal benefits.

Always seek professional legal advice when needed to ensure full protection of your rights and respectful treatment of others’.

Frequently Asked Questions

What types of works are protected by copyright?

Copyright law protects a wide range of creative, intellectual, or artistic forms, or “works.”

Does copyright protect ideas?

No, law does not protect ideas, concepts, systems, or methods of doing something. It only protects the tangible expression of ideas.

However, once you write down the story, the text (your expression of the idea) is protected.

Do I need to register my work to get copyright protection?.

No, protection is automatic the moment the work is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.

However, registering your work with the office in your country provides legal benefits, such as evidence of ownership

How long does copyright protection last?

In general, for works created by an individual, protection lasts for the life of the author, plus an additional 70 years.

What happens when a work’s copyright term expires?

When the term expires, the work enters the public domain.
This means that it can be used freely without obtaining permission from the owner.

However, it’s always a good idea to confirm that a work is truly in the public domain before you use it, as determining the status of a work can sometimes be complex.