question.jpgIn Copyrights

What is originality?

One of the two requirements for something to be entitled to copyright protection is that it must be original (the other requirement is that the original work must be fixed in a tangible medium).  This essentially means that there must be some amount of creativity used in creating the work - the author must have done some independent creation. Obviously, if you simply copy a work, your copied work is not entitled to protection because it is not original. Similarly, if your work consists of nothing more than information from the public domain, you cannot protect it with copyright.

However, this is a relatively easy standard to meet and the level of creativity required for copyright protection is not very high. For example, if you film a real world event, your movie can be protected by copyright even though there may not be much creativity on your part. Similarly, a tourist photograph of a landmark would be original, because the tourist picked the angle, the framing, etc., even though many similar photographs of the same landmark have been taken. The creation of a telephone listing, however, does not meet this originality requirement because there is not even a minimal level of creativity.

The originality requirement does not mean that you have to create something that has never been created before (so there is no novelty requirement, as there is in patent law). From a practical sense, this means that there can be independent creation, where two people create the same thing at the same time, and both authors will be entitled to protection for their work (whereas patent law only awards patent protection to one inventor).

While the originality requirement means there must be some minimal amount of creativity, it does not mean that the work needs to have any artistic merit. So a judgment of the work’s quality does not come into play - the focus is simply on the work’s creation and the level of creativity used.

Finally, scenes a faire is not original and cannot be protected