Copyright is a form of legal protection automatically provided to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works.
U.S. copyright law generally gives the author/creator or owner of an original creative work an exclusive right to:
Violation of one of these rights is called copyright infringement. However, the use may be authorized by copyright limitations (such as fair use).
For more information see Circular 1: Copyright Basics published by the U.S. Copyright Office.