Copyright protection is not available for:

  • Procedures, processes, and methods of operation;
  • Systems;
  • Ideas, facts, and concepts;
  • Principles and discoveries;
  • Titles, slogans, and other short phrases;
  • Lists of ingredients;
  • Creations that are not fixed in a tangible form, like an improvisational comedy sketch;
  • Information that is comprised completely of common property and no original authorship, like standard calendars, height, and weight charts, tape measures, and rulers;
  • Utilitarian elements of industrial designs (although the expressive elements of the design may be protected, such as a decorative lamp base);
  • Familiar symbols or designs, like a “Stop” sign;
  • Simple geometrical shapes; and
  • Mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering or coloring.

In some cases, these things might be protectable under patent, trademark or trade secret law. For example, a slogan may be eligible for trademark protection and a process may be the patentable subject matter. Also, although an idea, fact or concept itself is not protectable, the expression of an idea, facts or concept, such as in description, explanation, or illustration may be protectable or as a database of facts. For more on this see the Idea/Expression Dichotomy.

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