Copyright - WHAT is Copyright?

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Copyright is a form of Intellectual Property law which protects the original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed.

A work is protected by copyright for the author's life plus 50 years. If the work is published or registered by an anonymous author or under a pseudonym, the copyright protection lasts 75 years from the publication date.

What is NOT protected under Copyright law?

Ideas, methods, or systems are not subject to copyright protection. Copyright protection, therefore, is not available for: ideas or procedures for doing, making, or building things; scientific or technical methods or discoveries; business operations or procedures; mathematical principles; formulas, algorithms; or any other concept, process, or method of operation.
Blank forms and similar works, designed to record rather than to convey information, cannot be protected by copyright.

Copyright does not extend to names, titles, and short phrases or clauses such as column headings or simple checklists. The format, arrangement, or typography of a work is generally not protected. Furthermore, copyright protection does not extend to works consisting entirely of information that is common property containing no original authorship; for example: standard calendars, height and weight charts, tape measures and rulers, schedules of sporting events, and lists or tables taken from public documents or other common sources.

Designs for useful articles, such as vehicular bodies, boat hulls, wearing apparel, household appliances and the like are not protected by copyright.

Names, titles, and short phrases or expressions are not subject to copyright protection. Even if a name, title, or short phrase is novel, distinctive, or lends itself to a play on words, it cannot be protected by copyright.
The Copyright Office cannot register claims to exclusive rights in brief combinations of words, such as:

  • Names of products or services
  • Names of businesses, organizations, or groups (including the name of a group of performers)
  • Names of pseudonyms of individuals (including pen name or stage name)
  • Titles of works
  • Catchwords, catch phrases, mottoes, slogans, or short advertising expressions
  • Mere listings of ingredients, as in recipes, labels, or formulas(when a recipe or formula is accompanied by explanation or directions, there may be a basis for copyright protection)

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