Copyrights protect an Author's creative expression once it is fixed in a tangible medium.  Copyrights give the Author of a creative work the exclusive right to copy the work, be credited for the work, make derivative works based on it, perform the work and other related rights.  The justification behind the concept of copyrights is to promote the creation of new artistic works by giving authors control of and profit from them.  Copyrights have been standardized internationally and last between fifty and one hundred years from the creator's death or a fixed period of time for anonymous creations.   

Copyright may apply to a wide range of creative "works" including, poems, theses, plays, other literary works, movies,dances, musical compositions, audio recordings, paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, software, radio and television broadcasts, and industrial designs. Graphic designs and industrial designs may have separate or overlapping laws applied to them in some jurisdictions.

Copyright does not cover ideas or information, only the form or manner in which they are expressed. This is referred to as the "Idea-Expression Dichotomy." For example, the copyright to a Mickey Mouse cartoon restricts others from making copies of the cartoon or creating derivative works based on Disney's particular cartoon mouse, but doesn't prohibit the creation of other works about anthropomorphic mice in general, so long as they're different enough to not be judged copies of Disney's. In many jurisdictions, copyright law makes exceptions to these restrictions when the work is copied for the purpose of commentary or other related uses 

Copyright laws are standardized somewhat through international conventions such as the Berne Convention and Universal Copyright Convention. These multilateral treaties have been ratified by nearly all countries, and international organizationssuch as the European Union or World Trade Organization require their member states to comply with them.