The Basics of Copyrights: What Can Be Protected

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

The easiest answer is specific works of the following which are “original”:

Motion Pictures
Graphic Arts/Sculpture
Dramatic Works
Architectural Works

or any other similar “finished” product that is the creative and original work of the applying author. An example of a “finished” work would be a script for a screenplay which can be covered by copyright protection while a concept or “treatment” for one can not be covered.

Also, compilations or arrangements of non-copyrightable materials can be copyright protected if the arrangement or compilation is deemed to be both 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 deemed to be original and creative can be afforded copyright protection. Say a person wanted to create a visitors guide to Providence, RI. The maps, tables, restaurant names, bus schedules, etc would not be eligible for copyright protection individually. But as a creative and original compilation or “arrangement” of these materials this guide could qualify for protection under the US Copyright Act.

For specific answers to your questions regarding copyrights and intellectual property law, you are encouraged to consult a qualified attorney who specializes in this area of practice.

About the Author

Henry V. Boezi, III has been practicing law for over 25 years and specializes in Copyright, Trademark, Patent and Intellectual Property Law. Henry holds both J.D. and M.I.P. (Masters of Intellectual Property) degrees. He also received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering which affords him a unique background in these areas of legal practice. Henry can be reached at or at his web site,

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