The downside of copyright law: not everything is protected

Glenn W. Peterson

Business owners, authors, musicians and others who create books, music and other written works ought to consider protecting them as often as possible. Many people here in California and elsewhere do take advantage of the protections gained from copyrighting their materials in order to keep others from using them without permission. Even so, copyright law does have its limitations.

When it comes to intellectual property, most people focus on what they can protect. However, every law has its limitations, and copyright law is no exception. While it does cover a variety of works, California residents may want to know what cannot be protected.

For instance, cooks who simply list ingredients cannot protect that work, but if they add directions or instructions, it may then be eligible. The design of a page, its layout and type of design are not subject to copyright either. Information from the public domain, such as weights and measurements, standard calendars and other such information, cannot be copyrighted by themselves. The same goes for any work for which the copyright has expired, which usually includes works published prior to 1923.

These are just some of the works not covered by copyright law. Anyone who wants to protect their rights as they pertain to the written works they create may want to make sure that what they do falls under the law. One way to know for sure is to consult with an intellectual property attorney who can analyze the content and provide advice regarding whether it can be protected and can help with the application process, since mistakes can delay or derail the ability to receive approval for a copyright.