question.jpgIn Copyrights

What is fixation?

One of the two requirements for something to be entitled to copyright protection is that it must be fixed in a tangible medium (the other requirement is that the fixed work must be original). This essentially means that the work must be embodied in a copy which allows it to be seen or copied by others. The fixation requirement is a relatively easy standard to meet. Examples of sufficient fixation include writing something on a piece of paper or typing something into a computer and then saving/storing that information. Fixation does not include something which is simply spoken, unless it was either previously written down or the speech is being recorded (because the recording process fixes the speech in a tangible medium). However, fixation does not have to be directly perceptible by a person, it just has be capable of being perceived with the help of a machine or device – this is why fixation on a computer disk or RAM is sufficient to meet this requirement, because a computer can aid a user in perceiving that information.

For sounds or images which are being transmitted, fixation is at the time of transmission if the sounds or images are also being recorded at that time. So a live television show, of an NFL game for example, is generally recorded at the same time it is being aired live, meaning the fixation requirement is met and the live program can be protected by copyright.

Finally, while federal copyright law does not protect works which are not fixed, common law (which is law made by the courts, rather than by statute), may protect unfixed works.