Copyright law in America is the law that says that nobody can copy anything you wrote without asking you. What that means is that nobody can say that they wrote something if someone else wrote it. Although not everything that everybody writes is copyrighted, most things are. You can tell if something is copyrighted if you see © on the bottom of a page of writing.
What do you need to copyright something? There are two main things that a page of writing needs to be copyrighted.
- It needs to be an original work of authorship - this means that you have to write what you are copyrighting; you cannot take your friend's essay and say you wrote it.
- It needs to be fixed in a tangible medium of expression - this means that the material that you are copyrighting must be recorded. If you say something, it is not copyrighted. But if you write something down, or record it with a tape recorder, it is copyrighted.