What does copyright protect?
Copyright protects the way in which something is expressed. It does not protect ideas.
For example, if you wrote a new computer program to perform a function, the software code would be protected by copyright. Someone else could then write their own computer program to perform the same function. They would not infringe your copyright unless they copied the software code of your computer program.
|Copyright protects||Copyright does not protect||Example||Copyright infringement occurs when||The most effective IP protection is achieved by|
|The words in a novel||The ideas behind the story line of the novel||Another novel with the same storyline written in different words will not infringe||A distinctive or substantial part of the original novel is copied||Copyright|
|Photographs||The subject matter of the photograph, such as a landscape||Another photographer who photographs the same landscape, from the same position, with the same zoom will not infringe copyright||The original photograph is copied||Copyright|
|The words and tables in a marketing plan||The general business strategies described in the marketing plan||Another company that uses the same general business strategies has not infringed copyright||The original marketing plan or a substantial part of it is copied, that is, the words and tables are copied||Copyright, and obligations of confidentiality, if applicable|
|The software code of a computer program||The functionality of the computer program||Another person can write a different computer program with the same functionality without infringing copyright||The original software code is copied||Copyright and patent protection, if applicable|
|The words that express a product formulation||The formulation itself||If another person separately develops the identical formulation, this will not be a breach of copyright||The original expression of the formulation is copied||Patenting the formulation|
|The words in a technical manual that explain how a secret manufacturing process works||The manufacturing process||If another person develops that process, there is no breach of copyright||The manual is copied||Patenting the manufacturing process, or maintaining it as a trade secret.|
- Last reviewed: 29 Sep 2020
- Last updated: 28 Jul 2017