Cyber LawCopyright – What Can You Protect?

Copyright – What Can You Protect?

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The legal protection known as “copyright” has come front and center over the past few years with major legal rulings regarding peer-to-peer networks on the Internet. Copyright protection, however, can be a confusing area of the law. This article details what can and cannot be protected by copyright. 

Copyright Protection? – Yes

Copyright protects “original works of authorship” in a tangible, fixed form of expression. The material does need to be directly perceptible as long as it can be expressed with the aid of technology. A good example of this is a movie, which requires a projection device of some sort. 

Materials that can be copyrighted include: 

1. Literary works; 

2. Musical works, including any accompanying words 

3. Dramatic works, including any accompanying music 

4. Pantomimes and choreographic works 

5. Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works 

6. Motion pictures and other audiovisual works 

7. Sound recordings 

8. Architectural works

Each of these categories is traditionally given a very broad reading. For instance, “literary works” include computer programs and plans for building a home are considered “pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works.” While copyright cuts a broad path, it doesn’t cover everything.

Protected by Copyright? – No

If a work is not tangible, copyright protection will not apply. This can lead to confusion, so here are a few categories not eligible for protection from copyright:

1. Works that are not fixed. For example, the statements made by experts at a round table discussion or a comedian’s stage act.

2. Titles, names, short phrases, and slogans. These materials may be eligible for patent protection.

3. Ideas, procedures and methods.

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