As a researcher, original works including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and other intellectual works such as software and digital media are written, designed, and performed daily. Copyright is a form of protection provided to the authors of these original works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. Meaning, from the time the work is created in a fixed form, researchers can control who can make copies or make works derived from the original work.
Copyright, trademarks, and patents are all forms of protection provided to intellectual property. It can be difficult to understand the differences between the three protections or why each is necessary. Patents are a form of protection provided for inventions and discoveries, while copyright provides protection for original works. Copyright does not provide protection for ideas or discoveries, however it does protect the original work in which the idea or discovery is expressed. A trademark protects the description used to identify a product.