What is copyright and why is it important?

According to the US Copyright Office, copyright is a form of intellectual property law that protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed.

Copyright grants the author of a work exclusive rights to copying, distributing, preparing derivative works based on a work and performing or displaying the work publicly. It ensures that authors are the sole benefactors of their work.