What Can Be Protected?

What Can Be Protected by a Copyright?

Whether it is due to the overwhelming opportunities available for publication in the internet age or a surge in American creativity, the practice of Intellectual Property Law has never been stronger, or of more importance. Therefore, for  a writer, photographer, musician, etc., the first question is, what can be protected by a Copyright?

The easy answer is, original works of the following:

  • Literature
  • Poetry
  • Music
  • Choreography
  • Photography
  • Motion Pictures
  • Cartoons
  • Graphic Arts/Sculptures
  • Dramatic Works
  • Architectural Works

or any other similar “finished” product that is the creative and original Work of the author. An example of a “finished” Work is a script for a screenplay, which if creative and original, is entitled to Copyright protection, while a concept or “treatment” for a screenplay is not protected.

Compilations or arrangements of non-copyrightable materials can also be protected by Copyright if the arrangement or compilation is original and creative. For example, various maps, forms, tables, calendars, and directories are very often, in and of themselves, not eligible for Copyright protection. However, a compilation of these types of materials that is original and creative can be afforded copyright protection.  For example, if a person wants to create a visitors’ guide to Providence, Rhode Island, the maps, tables, restaurant names, bus schedules, etc., are not be eligible for Copyright protection individually. But a creative and original compilation or “arrangement” of them could qualify.

A “Work Made for Hire” is one prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment or a Work specially ordered or commissioned for certain types of use such as a contribution to a collective Work, a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual Work, a translation, a supplementary Work, a compilation, or an instructional text if the parties agree in writing that the Work will be considered a Work Made for Hire.


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