Protectable and Non-Protectable Aspects Under Copyright


Protectable Aspects

Copyright law provides protection for certain creative elements, including:

Original Expressions

– Original expressions of ideas are protectable. These expressions are the unique ways in which ideas are presented and may include literary works, artistic creations, music, and more.

Non-Protectable Aspects

Copyright law does not protect certain categories and concepts, including:

Ideas, Procedures, Processes, Systems, and Methods of Operation

– Copyright does not cover ideas, procedures, processes, systems, or methods of operation. These aspects are considered too abstract or functional to be protected.

Concepts and Principles of Discovery

– Concepts and principles of discovery are not protectable under copyright. Copyright is focused on the expression of ideas rather than the ideas themselves.

Public Domain Works

– Works that have entered the public domain are not protected by copyright. These are typically works whose copyright has expired, such as works created before 1927.

Titles and Short Phrases

– Titles and short phrases are generally not protected by copyright. These elements are considered too brief and basic to qualify for protection.

Facts (“Asserted Truths” Doctrine)

– Copyright does not protect facts or “asserted truths.” Facts are considered part of the public domain and are not subject to copyright protection.

Expressions Common to the Subject

– Elements that are common and typical within a particular subject matter are not protected by copyright. Copyright law focuses on original and distinctive expressions.

Fair Use

– Fair use is a doctrine that allows limited use of copyrighted material without permission from the copyright owner. It is not considered an infringement under specific circumstances, such as for purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research.

Reproduction by Libraries and Archives

– Copyright law permits libraries and archives to reproduce copyrighted works under certain conditions and for specific purposes, such as preservation and research.

First Sale Doctrine

– The first sale doctrine allows the resale of lawfully purchased copyrighted material, such as books or CDs, without infringing copyright.

Exemption of Certain Performances and Displays

– Certain performances and displays, particularly in an educational context, may be exempt from copyright restrictions under specific conditions.

Secondary Transmissions

– Secondary transmissions, such as cable or satellite retransmissions of copyrighted broadcasts, are subject to separate regulations and may not be covered by copyright restrictions alone.

In summary, copyright law protects original expressions while excluding ideas, concepts, facts, and other elements that are considered too general or functional to qualify for protection. Additionally, various doctrines and exceptions, such as fair use and the first sale doctrine, provide limitations to copyright protection in specific situations.

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