Compendium of U.S. Copyright Practices, 3rd Edition

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308.1 Independent Creation


308.1 Independent Creation


The term “independent creation” means that the author created the work without copying from other works. See Feist, 499 U.S. at 345.


The copyright law protects “those components of a work that are original to the author,” but “originality” does not require “novelty.” Id. at 345, 348. A work may satisfy the independent creation requirement “even though it closely resembles other works so long as the similarity is fortuitous, not the result of copying.” Id. at 345. For example, if two authors created works that are similar or even identical, each work could be registered provided that the authors did not copy expression from each other.


As a general rule, the Office will accept the applicant’s representation that the work was independently created by the author(s) named in the application, unless that statement is implausible or is contradicted by information provided elsewhere in the registration materials or in the Office’s records or by information that is known to the registration specialist. If the specialist determines that the work was not independently created, he or she may communicate with the applicant or may refuse to register the claim.


For representative examples of works that do not satisfy the independent creation requirement, see Section 313.4 (A) below.


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