What Can Be Protected Under Copyright

Eligible Expressions

Copyright protection applies to expressions that meet specific requirements:


– Originality implies that the expression must be independently created with a minimal degree of creativity.
– The author must be a “person,” and the standard of authorship is relatively low. It’s a standard of authorship, not necessarily novelty or exceptional creativity.
– Originality is a factor that arises in copyright applications and can also serve as a defense against infringement.

Fixation in Tangible Medium

– Copyright protection applies when the work is fixed in a tangible medium of expression with sufficient permanence.
– This fixation ensures that the work is preserved and can be perceived or reproduced over time.

Human Authorship Requirement

– The definition of an “author” is not explicitly outlined in the Copyright Act. However, there’s a well-established principle that human creation is a fundamental component.
– The Supreme Court established the significance of human authorship in copyright protection as far back as 1884, in the case of Burrows-Giles Lithographic Co. v. Sarony, 111 U.S. 53.
– The U.S. Copyright Office, in its Compendium (Third) §§ 306 and 313.2, clarifies that “a work must be created by a human being.”
– The Ninth Circuit, for instance, rejected the notion that a non-human entity, such as a monkey, could register a copyright in a photograph (e.g., a selfie) taken with a camera, as evidenced in the case of Naruto v. Slater, 888 F.3d 418 (9th Cir. 2018).

In summary, copyright protection is extended to expressions that meet the criteria of originality and fixation in a tangible medium of expression. Additionally, it is a fundamental requirement that creative works must be authored by human beings to be eligible for copyright protection.

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