What’s Not Protected by Copyright Law
Although many creative works satisfy the requirement for copyright law protection, there are still a number of things that cannot be protected by copyright law. To understand what’s not protected by copyright law, read over the non-exhausted list below.
Copyright protection is not available for:
- Procedures, processes and methods of operation;
- Ideas, facts and concepts;
- Principles and discoveries;
- Titles, slogans and other short phrases;
- Lists of ingredients;
- Creations that are not fixed in a tangible form, like an improvisational comedy sketch;
- Information that is comprised completely of common property and no original authorship, like standard calendars, height and weight charts, tape measures and rulers;
- Utilitarian elements of industrial designs (although the expressive elements of the design may be protected, such as a decorative lamp base);
- Familiar symbols or designs, like a “Stop” sign;
- Simple geometrical shapes; and
- Mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering or coloring
In some cases, these things might be protectable under patent, trademark or trade secret law. For example, a slogan may be eligible for trademark protection and a process may be patentable subject matter. Also, although an idea, fact or concept itself is not protectable, the expression of an idea, facts or concept, such as in a description, explanation, or illustration may be protectable or as a database of facts. For more on this see the Idea/Expression Dichotomy.
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