The things copyright does not protect

Copyright protects expressions and not ideas.

Listen to Audio Lesson About The Things Copyright Does Not Protect.


Copyright law only protects the way ideas are expressed in a particular creation, but does not protect the underlying idea, procedure, method of operation, mathematical concept or system involved. Protection for such items may be possible either under patent law or as trade secrets if the relevant conditions are fulfilled. 


Your company has copyright over a book that describes a system for juice processing. The copyright in the book will allow you to prevent others from copying the text and illustrations of the book, but it will not give you any rights to prevent competitors from using the machinery, processes, and merchandising methods described in the book.


Copyright does not protect facts ‐ whether scientific, historical, biographical or news of the day ‐ but only the way such facts are expressed, selected, or arranged.


A biography consists of facts about a person’s life. The author may have spent considerable time and effort discovering things that were previously unknown. Still, others are free to use such facts if they do not copy the way they are expressed. 

News reports are based on facts which by themselves are not protected by copyright. Nevertheless, there will be copyright in the way those facts are expressed by a particular journalist and additional copyright in the total compilation of the newspaper and the typographical lay‐out. Take note, however, that many copyright legislations around the world contain certain exemptions and limitations on the protection offered to news reports.

Useful Articles

In some countries, copyright protection is not available to useful articles, such as bathroom sinks, clothing, or computer monitors However, the design of a useful article may be protected as an industrial design. Nevertheless, copyright protection will still apply to such useful articles to the extent that the object contains pictorial, graphic or sculptural features that can be “identified separately from the utilitarian aspects” of the article. 


A plain Black T‐shirt would not enjoy copyright protection. However, it does not mean that if you place a copyright protected artwork on the T‐shirt, you will then lose protection of the artwork because it has become part of a useful article. While the T‐shirt does not enjoy copyright protection, the artwork still does, no matter onto what product it is applied. 

Not Protected


Names, Titles, Slogans, and other short Phrases.

Single words, names, titles, slogans, headlines, and other short phrases are excluded from copyright protection. But some countries allow protection if they are highly creative. This means that the name of a product or an advertising slogan you use for your business will usually not be protected by copyright (but they may be protectible under trademark or unfair competition laws.

Take Note About Logos

Logos, on the contrary, may be protected under copyright as artistic works as well as by trademark law, if the requirements for such protection are fulfilled. 

Official Governments

Official government works such as copies of statutes or judicial opinions also have no copyright protection in some countries.