Thursday, October 2, 2008

Copyright Basics

I don't know about anyone else, but I am not very familiar with even the basics of copyright. At the conlcusion of last school year I made a goal to learn more about copyright for this school year. This blog is proving to be the perfect opportunity to achieve my goal. So over the summer I purchased the book Complete Copyright: An Everyday Guide for Librarians. It was recommended by the ALA in a leaflet they mailed me. The book is colorful and quirky. It has lots of sidebars and tidbits. I've completed the first chapter and its really made a dull, albiet important, topic fun to read about. In just the first chapter I learned some important basics.
  • Copyright protects expressions, not ideas. For example, an idea for a love song cannot be copyrighted. The song must exist as a recording or written music to constitute an expression. (p.2)
  • Certain expressions cannot be copyrighted. For example, a calendar or a list of ingredients. A recipe, however, can be protected; such as Colonel Sanders's recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken.(p.4)
  • Once an expression is in a concrete medium, for example, a drawing, it has a degree of copyright protection. That means even a doodling on a notebook corner, has copyright protection. (p. 3)
  • In order to file a law suit, the expression in question must be registered at with the U.S. Copyright Office. Simply visit (p.4)
  • Public domain is information that is no longer protected by copyright. There are many public domain web sites, such as that has free electronic texts and e-books. (p.7)

Russell, C. (Ed.). (2004). Complete copyright: An everyday guide for librarian. American Librarians Association.

1 comment:

Steve Gallick said...

I was also a little perplexed at what is protected under copyright laws and what isn't. Thank you for providing an outline for the basics. I'm still a little iffy on the difference between a copyright and a trademark. This might sound a little juvenile, but when Paris Hilton tried - and succeeded, I think - to protect 'her' expression "That's hot," did she obtain copyright protection or trademark protection? Does she really receive some kind of compensation any time that expression is used in print? I hope not, although I have to give her credit for being a great businesswoman. Must run in the family. Sorry, I kind of veered off topic a little. I suppose that because "That's hot" is an expression, it could have been copyrighted.