1. What is a copyright?


A copyright gives the owner of a creative work the right to keep others from using the work without the owner’s permission. The key to understanding copyright law is to understand the difference between an idea and the expression of the idea. Copyright applies only to a particular expression, not to the ideas or facts underlying the expression. For instance, copyright may protect a particular song, novel or computer game about a romance in space, but it cannot protect the underlying idea of having a love affair among the stars.

More specifically, a creative work (often referred to as a “work of authorship”) must meet all of these three criteria to be protected by copyright:

  • It must be original. In other words, the author must have created rather than copied it.

  • It must be fixed in a tangible (concrete) medium of expression. For example, it might be expressed on paper, audio or video tape, computer disk, clay or canvas.

  • It must have at least some creativity—that is, it must be produced by an exercise of human intellect. There is no hard and fast rule as to how much creativity is enough. To give an example, it must go beyond the creativity found in the telephone white pages, which involve a non-discretionary alphabetic listing of telephone numbers rather than a creative selection of listings.

    Related terms: affirmative rights; Apple Computer, Inc. v. Franklin; Apple Computer, Inc. v. Microsoft Corp.; audiovisual works; collective work; compilations of original or unoriginal material; Computer Associates Int’l v. Altai; computer databases, copyright of; computer software, copyright of; copies, meaning under copyright law; copyright, explained; copyright and patent compared; copyrighted work; derivative work; display a work, defined; dramatic works, copyrights; exclusive copyright rights; factual works, defined; Feist Publications Inc. v. Rural Telephone Service Co.; first sale doctrine; ideas, not protected under copyright; indecent or immoral works, not protected; joint work; literary works, copyrights; merger doctrine; microcode and copyright; moral rights; motion pictures, copyrights; musical works and copyright protection; object code, copyrights; original work of authorship; output of computer, copyrightability of; pantomimes and choreographic works, copyrights; performing a work; phonorecords, defined; pictorial, graphic and sculptural works; printed forms, not copyrightable; public domain—copyright context; public performance of a work; recordings, copyright of; source code, copyrights; unpublished work, copyrightability of; work of the U.S. government, public domain; work of visual art.




Patent Copyright & Trademark
Patent, Copyright & Trademark: An Intellectual Property Desk Reference
ISBN: 1413309208
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 152

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