What Can Be Copyrighted?

March 7, 2017

Most Things Can Be Copyrighted

To put things simply, a copyright gives exclusive rights to those who create original works of authorship, which can include almost anything that can be expressed in written form or recorded in some other type of media. Copyright protection is available to virtually any type of creative work, whether it was ultimately published or not. Among the types of works that are copyrightable can include literary works, like books, poetry, dramatic works, but it can include music, including sheet music, lyrics and musical performances. It can also protect pictorial works, videos, motion pictures, and many types of artistic works, such as paintings, graphics, sculptures and even designs of all kinds.

The protection offered by copyright is extremely broad. However, to be protected by copyright, the work must consist of far more than a simple idea. You can copyright an idea, of course, but it has to fleshed out. It can’t be a few words or a sentence that is much like a common word or phrase. Under copyright law, the work must be fixed in a “tangible form of expression.” That is a legal way of saying that everything has to be spelled out. The idea has to be fully expressed. You can’t copyright a plain chair in the abstract, for example, but you can copyright a design for a new type of chair, with special features not found in other chairs. The work has to be unique.

In addition, to be copyrightable, the work must be completely original. It obviously can’t be a copy of another work and it must represent a significant level of creativity on the part of the author. Being original is vitally important; if your work is primarily a list of facts, common phrases or a list of names or ingredients for a popular recipe, it probably isn’t copyrightable. However, if these things are organized or incorporated in a way that is unique and original, it is quite possible to claim a copyright on the work as a whole, without claiming copyright on the facts or the lists. For example, if you have written a news article, you can claim copyright on the article as a whole, but not on the facts contained therein, which means you can’t claim someone infringed on your work if the work contains the same fact sets, but the expression is completely different.

Proving Your Copyright

As noted previously, copyright protection is technically automatic in virtually every type of medium. Any expression of an idea or vision, as long as it is sufficient enough to be considered unique and original, is copyrightable and can be protected. That means you should take advantage of your rights under the law and do whatever you can to make sure you can prove your copyright. If you have created any type of work that is original and stands on its own as a unique work, you should make sure you are properly protected. That means making sure you have proof whenever someone challenges your copyright. You can do that with a deposit into the CopyrightDrive.com archive.

When you register your work and deposit it into the CopyrightDrive.com archive, you will always be able to obtain proof of your copyright with a few clicks of your mouse. That proof cannot be contested in a court of law because it essentially freezes your original work in time and sets a specific date of creation. Your work goes to a public notary, who will certify the creation as yours and establish a date certain for its creation. Once it is in the archive, your work cannot be altered by anyone, including you, which means your proof will always be valid, for life plus 70 years, which is how long copyright is valid. Moreover, your copyright protection will be valid in all 174 signatories to the Berne Convention, which means your protection is international in scope.