Engage Your Creativity

When you write a story, create a work of art, compose or record music, or take a picture, you engage with copyright. Perhaps you’re fueled to create by reading, observing, or listening to other artists’ works, or maybe you are starting an entirely new conversation. Ready to learn more about how this automatic right affects your work and what it covers? Or how you can use the copyright-protected materials of others? In celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Copyright Office, we’ve pulled together a variety of resources to help you engage YOUR creativity.

What is Copyright?

Learn about what copyright does—and does not—cover in our Circulars. These guides provide detailed, up-to-date information to explain copyright to the public. Below are just a few of our most popular ones. To search our library of Circulars by topic, go here, and be sure to check out our FAQ page for quick answers to commonly asked questions.

Copyright Basics

Protection eligibility, rights owners, claiming copyrights, and duration. Spanish version available.

Copyright Registration

Guidelines for how to submit a complete copyright claim and when registration takes effect.

Copyright Office Fees

The Office’s fee schedule, services, and payment. Spanish version available.

Works Not Protected by Copyright

What doesn’t qualify: ideas; methods; names, titles, and short phrases; typeface; and more.

Types of Work

Learn about registering your copyright claims, including about some of our applications for a few common types of works. Want to learn more or ready to take the next step? Register your work here.

Registration At a Glance

The who, what, where, when, why, and how of copyright registration.

Copyright for Musicians

What musicians should know about copyright.

Visual Art

Information for visual arts applications.


Information for photography applications.

Music & Sound Recordings

Information for music and sound recordings. Music Modernization Act info here.

Literary Works

Information for literary works applications.

Featured Videos

Want more information? Our Learning Engine video series explains copyright principles and frequently asked questions about topics.

What is Copyright?

Learn about what copyright involves, including types of works subject to copyright protection.

Fair Use

Learn what to do when you find information on the internet you would like to use. For more on fair use, see our index.

Public Domain

Learn through examples of instances when ideas are not protected under the law.

Family Sparks Creativity

As part of Black History Month, with its 2021 theme of Black Family: Representation, Diversity, and Identity, the U.S. Copyright Office celebrated its families and their connections to copyright through a series of interviews with or about creative family members. These creative people described what inspires them, the role of family, why art is important today, and their connections to copyright and the Copyright Office.

Harriett V. Bennett

Michael Carpenter

Tracie Coleman