What does and does not a copyright protect?

Glenn W. Peterson

A copyright is a form of protection that safeguards original works of authorship including dramatic, literary, artistic and musical works. Such works may include but are not limited to novels, poetry, songs, movies, architecture and computer software. A copyright does not protect ideas, facts, systems or methods of operation, though it may protect the way in which one expresses these things. If you wish to obtain a copyright in California, it is important that you first understand what copyright does and does not protect. Copyright.gov explains protections in detail.

Many people wish to copyright their websites. If you are one of them, know that while you cannot copyright your website per say, you can protect the content that appears on it. Content includes videos, writings, artwork, photographs and other forms of authorship. You cannot, however, copyright your domain name. If you wish to protect your domain name, you can register it with the nonprofit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

If you wish to copyright a recipe, you must include more than just a list of ingredients. You must include detailed instructions that outline how to make the dish in question and/or include the recipe in a cookbook.

You cannot copyright the name of your band, a name, title, short phrase or slogan. If you wish to protect any of these types of items, you should refer to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office to see if a trademark will offer the desired protection

As of December 1, 1990, copyright law protects architecture. Copyright law defines architectural work as the design of a building represented in any tangible mode of expression, including plans, drawings, models or a building itself. Copyright law only protects architectural work created on or after December 1, 1990. Those created before that date are not eligible for copyright protection.

The information in this post is meant to be purely educational. It should not be read as legal advice.