Not everything falls under copyright law

Peterson Watts Law Group, LLP

California individuals who create written works may be under the impression that everything they produce receives legal protection. The truth is that certain things are not covered by copyright law, and understanding what those things are could help clear up any confusion. This prevents individuals from proceeding as if they will receive protections and finding out later that none exists.

It would probably make sense to people that most government works do not receive copyright protection. Items such as statutes, judicial opinions, regulations, administrative rulings and public ordinances fall under that category. However, other California or local government works could receive protection. Also, federal employees do not receive protection for works created as part of their job duties, unless the person in question is an independent contractor whose works may qualify.

The way individuals express their ideas, facts, methods of operation and systems may receive legal protection, but the items themselves do not. A list of ingredients or a recipe does not qualify for protection either. Also included are the blank forms and other similar writings that are designed to record information and do not fall under the law. However, forms that convey information might receive some protection. Trademark protection may be available for some items.

Many people rely on copyright law to protect their writings and other works, but they need to make sure that whatever it is does not fall into an exception that excludes it from receiving the protections allowed by law. The best way to receive assurances that materials qualify for some sort of intellectual property protection is to consult with an experienced attorney. Making assumptions could end up costing individuals in the end.