3.4. Legal Issues with Copying
This next section includes comments relating to the legal aspects of copying in the United States.
The copyright law states:
Copyright protection subsists, in accordance with this title, in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.
U.S. Code Title 17 section 102
Copyright applies only to the "expression" of ideas, not to the ideas themselves. The "idea" of painting a picture of your mother is not covered by copyright law. There is a particular expression of that idea in the painting Arrangement in Grey and Black: The Artist's Mother by James Whistler (better known as Whistler's Mother). That would be covered by copyright law (if it were painted today).
Copyright law reserves for the owner of the copyright the exclusive right:
(1) to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords;
(2) to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work;
(3) to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
(4) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works, to perform the copyrighted work publicly;
(5) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and ...