Copyright protection pertains to original works of authorship that are created and fixed in a tangible form. Once this occurs, the owner can claim what’s known as a poor man’s copyright, or put another way, copyright rights under common law. An owner may also choose to register the copyright with the United States Copyright Office in order to be entitled to the benefits associated therewith. Whether looking to explore how to secure copyright or respond to an allegation of copyright infringement, it is critical to understand what is not protected by copyright.
There are several categories of material that do not qualify for copyright rights, and therefore copyright registration. These include:
- Certain works that have not been fixed in a tangible form or expression. Put another way, these are specific works that have not been properly fixed in a form that creates copyright rights.
- Titles, names, phrases, and slogans may not be entitled to copyright protection. Likewise, familiar symbols or designs or ornamentation may not suffice as a creative work of authorship so as to be entitled to copyright protection or registration.
- Ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts, principles, discoveries, or devices without anything else do not deserve copyright protection. This is commonly one of the areas confused by people looking to protect intellectual property, and it may be an item that is better reserved for patent protection.
- Works consisting entirely of information that is common and contains no original authorship. Simply put, works in the public domain may not be eligible for exclusive rights and sole protection.
While the U.S. Copyright Office provides additional information regarding what is not protected by copyright, it is important for both someone looking to protect intellectual property as well as someone looking to fend off a claim of copyright infringement to understand these areas. Without a valid copyright, there can be no copyright infringement. Although this sounds simple, it is often overlooked despite being the first item that should be analyzed by any copyright attorney whether looking to pursue copyright infringement or looking to defend copyright infringement claims.
A copyright assessment is a prudent first step for anybody looking to ensure copyright protection, procure copyright protection, procure copyright registration, or alleged copyright infringement. You can contact a copyright attorney today to discuss any of these copyright matters.