There is a list of works commonly registered in this category found on the Copyright Office’s Visual Arts page.

Some of the categories include: architectural works, both 2D and 3D artwork, board games, cartoons and comic books, drawings, fabric designs, jewelry designs, illustrations, paintings, sculptures, photographs, and more.

Is public display the same as publication?

No. Publication refers to offering distribution of copies by sale or other transfer of ownership. A single one-of-a-kind work of art may be displayed publicly, but even if it is sold, it isn’t the same as publication. Publication would be offering prints of the artwork for sale.

This gets at the heart of what copyright is: it is the legal right to copy original works and distribute them for sale. Making a single fine-art painting with no intention of copying it would render seeking copyrights on such a work moot.

A useful article is an article having intrinsic utilitarian function; clothing, furniture, machinery, lighting fixtures to name a few. Copyright does not protect the mechanical or utilitarian aspects of such works of craftsmanship. It may however protect any pictorial, graphic, or sculptural authorship apart from the utilitarian aspects. Some designs of useful articles may qualify for protection under the federal patent law. Copyright law only protects the artistic expression of the author of the pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work, not the design of the article.

For example, a drawing of an automobile may be copyrighted, but that doesn’t grant the artist exclusive right to make an automobile of the same design. For more information, see Circular 40.