What Is Not Protected

Updated February 11, 2017 | Infoplease Staff

Several categories of material are generally not eligible for federal copyright protection. These include, among others:

  • works that have not been fixed in a tangible form of expression—for example, choreographic works that have not been notated or recorded, or improvisational speeches or performances that have not been written or recorded;
  • titles, names, short phrases, and slogans; familiar symbols or designs; mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or coloring; mere listings of ingredients or contents;
  • ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts, principles, discoveries, or devices, as distinguished from descriptions, explanations, or illustrations;
  • works consisting entirely of information that is common property and containing no original authorship—for example, standard calendars, height and weight charts, tape measures and rulers, and lists or tables taken from public documents or other common sources.

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