17 U.S.C. § 101 : US Code - Section 101: Definitions
Search 17 U.S.C. § 101 : US Code - Section 101: Definitions
Except as otherwise provided in this title, as used in this
title, the following terms and their variant forms mean the
An "anonymous work" is a work on the copies or phonorecords of
which no natural person is identified as author.
An "architectural work" is the design of a building as embodied
in any tangible medium of expression, including a building,
architectural plans, or drawings. The work includes the overall
form as well as the arrangement and composition of spaces and
elements in the design, but does not include individual standard
"Audiovisual works" are works that consist of a series of
related images which are intrinsically intended to be shown by
the use of machines, or devices such as projectors, viewers, or
electronic equipment, together with accompanying sounds, if any,
regardless of the nature of the material objects, such as films
or tapes, in which the works are embodied.
The "Berne Convention" is the Convention for the Protection of
Literary and Artistic Works, signed at Berne, Switzerland, on
September 9, 1886, and all acts, protocols, and revisions
The "best edition" of a work is the edition, published in the
United States at any time before the date of deposit, that the
Library of Congress determines to be most suitable for its
A person's "children" are that person's immediate offspring,
whether legitimate or not, and any children legally adopted by
A "collective work" is a work, such as a periodical issue,
anthology, or encyclopedia, in which a number of contributions,
constituting separate and independent works in themselves, are
assembled into a collective whole.
A "compilation" is a work formed by the collection and
assembling of preexisting materials or of data that are selected,
coordinated, or arranged in such a way that the resulting work as
a whole constitutes an original work of authorship. The term
"compilation" includes collective works.
A "computer program" is a set of statements or instructions to
be used directly or indirectly in a computer in order to bring
about a certain result.
"Copies" are material objects, other than phonorecords, in
which a work is fixed by any method now known or later developed,
and from which the work can be perceived, reproduced, or
otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a
machine or device. The term "copies" includes the material
object, other than a phonorecord, in which the work is first
A "Copyright Royalty Judge" is a Copyright Royalty Judge
appointed under section 802 of this title, and includes any
individual serving as an interim Copyright Royalty Judge under
"Copyright owner", with respect to any one of the exclusive
rights comprised in a copyright, refers to the owner of that
A work is "created" when it is fixed in a copy or phonorecord
for the first time; where a work is prepared over a period of
time, the portion of it that has been fixed at any particular
time constitutes the work as of that time, and where the work has
been prepared in different versions, each version constitutes a
A "derivative work" is a work based upon one or more
preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement,
dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound
recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any
other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or
adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations,
elaborations, or other modifications which, as a whole, represent
an original work of authorship, is a "derivative work".
A "device", "machine", or "process" is one now known or later
A "digital transmission" is a transmission in whole or in part
in a digital or other non-analog format.
To "display" a work means to show a copy of it, either directly
or by means of a film, slide, television image, or any other
device or process or, in the case of a motion picture or other
audiovisual work, to show individual images nonsequentially.
An "establishment" is a store, shop, or any similar place of
business open to the general public for the primary purpose of
selling goods or services in which the majority of the gross
square feet of space that is nonresidential is used for that
purpose, and in which nondramatic musical works are performed
A "food service or drinking establishment" is a restaurant,
inn, bar, tavern, or any other similar place of business in which
the public or patrons assemble for the primary purpose of being
served food or drink, in which the majority of the gross square
feet of space that is nonresidential is used for that purpose,
and in which nondramatic musical works are performed publicly.
The term "financial gain" includes receipt, or expectation of
receipt, of anything of value, including the receipt of other
A work is "fixed" in a tangible medium of expression when its
embodiment in a copy or phonorecord, by or under the authority of
the author, is sufficiently permanent or stable to permit it to
be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated for a period
of more than transitory duration. A work consisting of sounds,
images, or both, that are being transmitted, is "fixed" for
purposes of this title if a fixation of the work is being made
simultaneously with its transmission.
The "Geneva Phonograms Convention" is the Convention for the
Protection of Producers of Phonograms Against Unauthorized
Duplication of Their Phonograms, concluded at Geneva,
Switzerland, on October 29, 1971.
The "gross square feet of space" of an establishment means the
entire interior space of that establishment, and any adjoining
outdoor space used to serve patrons, whether on a seasonal basis
The terms "including" and "such as" are illustrative and not
An "international agreement" is -
(1) the Universal Copyright Convention;
(2) the Geneva Phonograms Convention;
(3) the Berne Convention;
(4) the WTO Agreement;
(5) the WIPO Copyright Treaty;
(6) the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty; and
(7) any other copyright treaty to which the United States is
A "joint work" is a work prepared by two or more authors with
the intention that their contributions be merged into inseparable
or interdependent parts of a unitary whole.
"Literary works" are works, other than audiovisual works,
expressed in words, numbers, or other verbal or numerical symbols
or indicia, regardless of the nature of the material objects,
such as books, periodicals, manuscripts, phonorecords, film,
tapes, disks, or cards, in which they are embodied.
"Motion pictures" are audiovisual works consisting of a series
of related images which, when shown in succession, impart an
impression of motion, together with accompanying sounds, if any.
The term "motion picture exhibition facility" means a movie
theater, screening room, or other venue that is being used
primarily for the exhibition of a copyrighted motion picture, if
such exhibition is open to the public or is made to an assembled
group of viewers outside of a normal circle of a family and its
To "perform" a work means to recite, render, play, dance, or
act it, either directly or by means of any device or process or,
in the case of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to
show its images in any sequence or to make the sounds
accompanying it audible.
A "performing rights society" is an association, corporation,
or other entity that licenses the public performance of
nondramatic musical works on behalf of copyright owners of such
works, such as the American Society of Composers, Authors and
Publishers (ASCAP), Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), and SESAC, Inc.
"Phonorecords" are material objects in which sounds, other than
those accompanying a motion picture or other audiovisual work,
are fixed by any method now known or later developed, and from
which the sounds can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise
communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or
device. The term "phonorecords" includes the material object in
which the sounds are first fixed.
"Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works" include two-
dimensional and three-dimensional works of fine, graphic, and
applied art, photographs, prints and art reproductions, maps,
globes, charts, diagrams, models, and technical drawings,
including architectural plans. Such works shall include works of
artistic craftsmanship insofar as their form but not their
mechanical or utilitarian aspects are concerned; the design of a
useful article, as defined in this section, shall be considered a
pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work only if, and only to the
extent that, such design incorporates pictorial, graphic, or
sculptural features that can be identified separately from, and
are capable of existing independently of, the utilitarian aspects
of the article.
For purposes of section 513, a "proprietor" is an individual,
corporation, partnership, or other entity, as the case may be,
that owns an establishment or a food service or drinking
establishment, except that no owner or operator of a radio or
television station licensed by the Federal Communications
Commission, cable system or satellite carrier, cable or satellite
carrier service or programmer, provider of online services or
network access or the operator of facilities therefor,
telecommunications company, or any other such audio or
audiovisual service or programmer now known or as may be
developed in the future, commercial subscription music service,
or owner or operator of any other transmission service, shall
under any circumstances be deemed to be a proprietor.
A "pseudonymous work" is a work on the copies or phonorecords
of which the author is identified under a fictitious name.
"Publication" is the distribution of copies or phonorecords of
a work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or
by rental, lease, or lending. The offering to distribute copies
or phonorecords to a group of persons for purposes of further
distribution, public performance, or public display, constitutes
publication. A public performance or display of a work does not
of itself constitute publication.
To perform or display a work "publicly" means -
(1) to perform or display it at a place open to the public or
at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a
normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is
(2) to transmit or otherwise communicate a performance or
display of the work to a place specified by clause (1) or to
the public, by means of any device or process, whether the
members of the public capable of receiving the performance or
display receive it in the same place or in separate places and
at the same time or at different times.
"Registration", for purposes of sections 205(c)(2), 405, 406,
410(d), 411, 412, and 506(e), means a registration of a claim in
the original or the renewed and extended term of copyright.
"Sound recordings" are works that result from the fixation of a
series of musical, spoken, or other sounds, but not including the
sounds accompanying a motion picture or other audiovisual work,
regardless of the nature of the material objects, such as disks,
tapes, or other phonorecords, in which they are embodied.
"State" includes the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth
of Puerto Rico, and any territories to which this title is made
applicable by an Act of Congress.
A "transfer of copyright ownership" is an assignment, mortgage,
exclusive license, or any other conveyance, alienation, or
hypothecation of a copyright or of any of the exclusive rights
comprised in a copyright, whether or not it is limited in time or
place of effect, but not including a nonexclusive license.
A "transmission program" is a body of material that, as an
aggregate, has been produced for the sole purpose of transmission
to the public in sequence and as a unit.
To "transmit" a performance or display is to communicate it by
any device or process whereby images or sounds are received
beyond the place from which they are sent.
A "treaty party" is a country or intergovernmental organization
other than the United States that is a party to an international
The "United States", when used in a geographical sense,
comprises the several States, the District of Columbia and the
Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the organized territories under
the jurisdiction of the United States Government.
For purposes of section 411, a work is a "United States work"
only if -
(1) in the case of a published work, the work is first
(A) in the United States;
(B) simultaneously in the United States and another treaty
party or parties, whose law grants a term of copyright
protection that is the same as or longer than the term
provided in the United States;
(C) simultaneously in the United States and a foreign
nation that is not a treaty party; or
(D) in a foreign nation that is not a treaty party, and all
of the authors of the work are nationals, domiciliaries, or
habitual residents of, or in the case of an audiovisual work
legal entities with headquarters in, the United States;
(2) in the case of an unpublished work, all the authors of
the work are nationals, domiciliaries, or habitual residents of
the United States, or, in the case of an unpublished
audiovisual work, all the authors are legal entities with
headquarters in the United States; or
(3) in the case of a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work
incorporated in a building or structure, the building or
structure is located in the United States.
A "useful article" is an article having an intrinsic
utilitarian function that is not merely to portray the appearance
of the article or to convey information. An article that is
normally a part of a useful article is considered a "useful
The author's "widow" or "widower" is the author's surviving
spouse under the law of the author's domicile at the time of his
or her death, whether or not the spouse has later remarried.
The "WIPO Copyright Treaty" is the WIPO Copyright Treaty
concluded at Geneva, Switzerland, on December 20, 1996.
The "WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty" is the WIPO
Performances and Phonograms Treaty concluded at Geneva,
Switzerland, on December 20, 1996.
A "work of visual art" is -
(1) a painting, drawing, print, or sculpture, existing in a
single copy, in a limited edition of 200 copies or fewer that
are signed and consecutively numbered by the author, or, in the
case of a sculpture, in multiple cast, carved, or fabricated
sculptures of 200 or fewer that are consecutively numbered by
the author and bear the signature or other identifying mark of
the author; or
(2) a still photographic image produced for exhibition
purposes only, existing in a single copy that is signed by the
author, or in a limited edition of 200 copies or fewer that are
signed and consecutively numbered by the author.
A work of visual art does not include -
(A)(i) any poster, map, globe, chart, technical drawing,
diagram, model, applied art, motion picture or other
audiovisual work, book, magazine, newspaper, periodical, data
base, electronic information service, electronic publication,
or similar publication;
(ii) any merchandising item or advertising, promotional,
descriptive, covering, or packaging material or container;
(iii) any portion or part of any item described in clause (i)
(B) any work made for hire; or
(C) any work not subject to copyright protection under this
A "work of the United States Government" is a work prepared by
an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of
that person's official duties.
A "work made for hire" is -
(1) a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or
her employment; or
(2) a work specially ordered or commissioned for use as a
contribution to a collective work, as a part of a motion
picture or other audiovisual work, as a translation, as a
supplementary work, as a compilation, as an instructional text,
as a test, as answer material for a test, or as an atlas, if
the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by
them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire.
For the purpose of the foregoing sentence, a "supplementary
work" is a work prepared for publication as a secondary adjunct
to a work by another author for the purpose of introducing,
concluding, illustrating, explaining, revising, commenting
upon, or assisting in the use of the other work, such as
forewords, afterwords, pictorial illustrations, maps, charts,
tables, editorial notes, musical arrangements, answer material
for tests, bibliographies, appendixes, and indexes, and an
"instructional text" is a literary, pictorial, or graphic work
prepared for publication and with the purpose of use in
systematic instructional activities.
In determining whether any work is eligible to be considered a
work made for hire under paragraph (2), neither the amendment
contained in section 1011(d) of the Intellectual Property and
Communications Omnibus Reform Act of 1999, as enacted by section
1000(a)(9) of Public Law 106-113, nor the deletion of the words
added by that amendment -
(A) shall be considered or otherwise given any legal
(B) shall be interpreted to indicate congressional approval
or disapproval of, or acquiescence in, any judicial
by the courts or the Copyright Office. Paragraph (2) shall be
interpreted as if both section 2(a)(1) of the Work Made For Hire
and Copyright Corrections Act of 2000 and section 1011(d) of the
Intellectual Property and Communications Omnibus Reform Act of
1999, as enacted by section 1000(a)(9) of Public Law 106-113,
were never enacted, and without regard to any inaction or
awareness by the Congress at any time of any judicial
The terms "WTO Agreement" and "WTO member country" have the
meanings given those terms in paragraphs (9) and (10),
respectively, of section 2 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act.
Subject matter and scope of copyright
Subject matter of copyright: In general