Copyright law provides creators and distributors of creative works with an incentive to share their works by granting them the right to be compensated when others use those works. Rights are granted to the creators of creative works in the U.S. Copyright Act (title 17, U.S. Code). If you are not a copyright holder for a particular work, as determined by the law, you must obtain copyright permission prior to reusing or reproducing that work.
U.S. Copyright Office
Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States to the authors of original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works.
Any creative work that you come across—including books, magazines, journals, newsletters, maps, charts, photographs, graphic materials, and other printed materials; unpublished materials, such as analysts' and consultants' reports; and non-print materials, including electronic content, computer programs and other software, sound recordings, motion pictures, video files, sculptures, and other artistic works—can be protected by copyright law. Exclusive rights granted to those "authors" are the rights to reproduce, distribute, publicly perform and publicly display their works.
These rights provide copyright holders control over the use of their creations and an ability to benefit, monetarily and otherwise, from the use of their works. Copyright also protects the right to "make a derivative work," such as a movie from a book; the right to include a work in a collective work, such as publishing an article in a book or journal; and the rights of attribution and integrity for "authors" of certain works of visual art. Copyright law does not protect ideas, data or facts.
In the U.S., the general rule of copyright duration for a work created on or after January 1, 1978 is the author's life plus 70 years after the author's death. This is often referred to as "life-plus-70". Works created by companies or other types of organizations generally have a copyright term of 95 years. For more information on copyright duration, visit http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap3.pdf.
U.S. Copyright Office