What is a Copyright?
Copyrights protect expression that is in a fixed medium, such as a book, a film or electronically stored information made available on the Internet. Copyrights do not protect ideas, but the expression of ideas in a fixed medium. For instance, a story by itself would not be copyrightable, but once the story is published in a book or turned into a movie, the book or movie would be entitled to copyright protection.
A copyright exists automatically for any expression once it is fixed in a tangible form. However, federal registration of copyrighted material provides enhanced protections, such as access to federal courts and statutory remedies. Copyrights are registered by the Copyright Office, which is a part of the Library of Congress.
Specific issues that have arisen with respect to copyrights on the Internet are primarily governed by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Among other things, the DMCA provides for a process by which copyright owners can complain to website hosts about infringing material. By complying with the DMCA process, the website hosts can limit their liability for copyright infringement.