04 / 04 / 2015

Texas Business Copyright Law: 3 Works You May Not Know Should Be Copyrighted

Want to protect your creative works from copycats? You've come to the right place. Our attorneys offer a full suite of legal copyrighting services, such as filing copyrights, seeking injunctions against copyright infringers, as well as prosecuting and defending copyright infringement lawsuits in federal court.

Most people don't realize just how many different types of original works can be copyrighted. That's why we decided to put together this list of three works that you may not know should be copyrighted.

1. Choreographed Performances

Dances, ballets, and even mime performances are all classified as "pantomimes and choreographic works" and are protected by copyright.

For copyright protection, the choreographed work must be original and fixed in a permanent, reproducible way. This can be accomplished by videotaping, photographing, or simply writing detailed notes of the routine.

2. Sculptures

We all expect music and photography to be protected by copyright, but it might not have crossed your mind that sculptures can also be protected by copyright law. Sculptures are listed under the "pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works" category. This also includes illustrations, prints, photographs, paintings, drawings, and art reproductions.

The primary requirements are that the work has, at minimum, a low level of originality and doesn't have utilitarian value. Copyright doesn't protect utilitarian objects or language, since they are so common.

According to the Useful Articles (FL-103) section of copyright law: "Copyright never protects the mechanical or utilitarian aspects of an article, whether useful or not. No matter how novel, distinctive, or aesthetically pleasing any clasps, motors, or other functioning parts of an article may be, copyright does not protect them. But copyright may protect authorship in pictorial, graphic, or sculptural designs that can be identified separately from, or exist independently of, the utilitarian aspects of the article."

For further clarification, speak to a Houston copyright attorney at Vethan Law Firm, P.C.

3. Architectural Designs

While you likely aren't surprised that architectural blueprints are protected by copyright, most would never guess that the building itself could be. The "architectural works" category covers blueprints, architectural drawings, and some elements of actual buildings.

As previously stated, copyright doesn't protect the utilitarian elements of the building. These include standard features and aspects that make the building habitable or useful. Fortunately, copyright does protect the arrangement and composition of particular elements in the design, as well as the overall form.

In general, the protected works must have a creative purpose, instead of a useful purpose, to be protected. It can be difficult deciding whether those elements are original or not, and what classifies creative versus useful in each given case. This is something that most people will seek legal counsel to help decide. If this is a current scenario that you are in, we would be happy to provide our expert guidance.

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