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Characters and Copyright Protection

Gerald M. Levine, co-author It would be unusual in a work of any genre for every part to be protected by copyright law even though the whole work bears the symbol ©. Only when an infringement is alleged and challenged does it become apparent that the phrase “original works of authorship” (Section 102(a) of the […]

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Characters As Protectable Assets Do Not Survive Copyright Termination

Co-author Gerald M. Levine Characters as protectable assets do not survive copyright termination of the works in which they appear even though they may continue to live on in works that continue in copyright.  All works published prior to January 1, 1923 are in the public domain, a vast repository of cultural wealth available for […]

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Copyrightability of Generic Elements in a Copyrighted Work

Co-author Gerald M. Levine Unprotected elements in a copyrighted work affects the copyrightability of those elements alone. The copyright does not extend to every sentence in a work or to undeveloped characters. Fair use is not an issue since its application presupposes expressive material that is both copyrightable and copyrighted. (we leave for another day […]

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Titles, Words and Short Phrases (Q&A)

Co-author Gerald M. Levine Titles, Words and Short Phrases are not copyrightable although contextualized they may become so. The answer is found in the Code of Federal Regulations, 37 C.F.R. Sec. 202.1.  Subsection (a) provides that the following “examples of works [are] not subject to copyright and applications for registration of such works cannot be […]

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What Is Copyright Infringement?

In assessing claims for copyright infringement similarity is not enough. Verbatim copying is clearly infringes but the standard needed to prove a case of copyright infringement is “substantial similarity.” In a notable case a couple of years ago by a cookbook author aggrieved by another author allegedly poaching in her niche (sneaking vegetables into children’s […]

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Copyright Protection Extends to Expressive Material

Co-author Gerald M. Levine Copyright protection extends to expressive material. Strings of effectively arranged letters, words, phrases, clauses, sentences and paragraphs are the essence of expression. They are owned by the author who creates them and protected by copyright law, although infringements are not actionable unless the work is registered with the Copyright Office. If […]

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Damages and Penalties for Copyright Infringement

Co-author Gerald M. Levine Copyright infringement has consequences. The Copyright Act protects the integrity of an author’s work by granting the copyright holder certain exclusive rights in both her original and derivative works. It has teeth. This means the author controls who may do what to her work. For example, without a license from the […]

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