Copyright Law describes a collection of exclusive rights for creators (authors, artists, inventors, etc.) of original works. U.S. copyright law is referred to in the Constitution, where Congress is given the power "to promote progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries," (Article I, Section 8, Clause 8).
Though it has been revised and updated several times, most recently in the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, the core rights given to creators have essentially remained the same:
All original, creative works fixed in a tangible medium of expression may be protected by copyright. Copyright protection does not require publication or registration of the work with the U.S. Copyright Office. It is applied at the moment a creative work appears in fixed form. Nor are works created after 1978 required to display a © symbol.
However, registration with the Copyright Office has some advantages:
There are a number of areas that are not addressed by copyright law: