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Original Works Fixed in a Tangible Medium of Expression

Learn about the constitutionally mandated requirements that copyrightable works be both original and fixed in a tangible medium of expression.


Copyright law protects creative expression. Unlike trademark law, which Congress regulates via the Commerce Clause, copyright law and patent law share the same constitutional source. The Intellectual Property Clause in Article I, section 8, clause 8 authorizes Congress to give authors exclusive rights in their writings for a limited time. The goal of granting such exclusive rights is to promote the progress of science and the useful arts.

Courts have construed from the Constitution two...