The Extensive Scope of Copyright Protection: Understanding What Can and Cannot be Copyrighted

Copyright is a legal concept that provides protection to original works of authorship. It is a form of intellectual property law that gives the creator of a work exclusive rights to control how and where their work is used. However, not every creation is eligible for copyright protection. In this article, we will discuss the scope of copyright protection and understand what can and cannot be copyrighted.

Intellectual Property

What can be copyrighted?

Copyright law protects original works of authorship that are created in a tangible form. These include literary works, musical compositions, artwork, photographs, and computer software. Here are some specific examples:

  1. Literary Works: This includes books, articles, poems, scripts, song lyrics, and educational materials.
  2. Musical Works: This includes original compositions and arrangements of musical notes and lyrics.
  3. Artistic Works: This includes paintings, sculptures, drawings, and photographs.
  4. Architectural Works: This includes the design and plans for buildings and structures.
  5. Computer Software: This includes programs, applications, and code used in computer systems and devices.
  6. Dramatic Works: This includes plays and films.
  7. Sound Recordings: This includes audio recordings of music, spoken word, and sound effects.
  8. Choreographic Works: This includes original dance compositions and routines.

In general, copyright protections cover the expression of an idea, not the idea itself. This means that multiple creators can have similar ideas but express them differently, and each one can be eligible for copyright protection.

Copyright Law | Rosenbaum IP

What cannot be copyrighted?

Some types of content cannot be protected by copyright, as they do not meet the necessary requirements of originality or tangibility. Here are some examples:

  1. Ideas: Concepts or abstract ideas cannot be copyrighted. Only the expression of that idea can be copyrighted.
  2. Facts and Data: Facts and data, no matter how original they are, cannot be copyrighted.
  3. Government Works: Works created by government employees as part of their official duties are not eligible for copyright protection.
  4. Words and Phrases: Short phrases, slogans, and expressions are not eligible for copyright protection.
  5. Generic or Functional Designs: Designs that serve a functional purpose and cannot be separated from the object or product cannot be copyrighted.

Copyright protection covers a wide range of original works of authorship that are expressed in tangible form. As a creator, it is essential to understand what can and what cannot be copyrighted to ensure that your work receives the necessary legal protection.


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