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

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Chapter 100
Chapter 200
Chapter 300
Chapter 400
Chapter 500
Chapter 600
Chapter 700
Chapter 800
Chapter 900
Chapter 1000
Chapter 1100
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Chapter 1300
Chapter 1400
Chapter 1500
Chapter 1600
Chapter 1700
Chapter 1800
Chapter 1900
Chapter 2000
Chapter 2100
Chapter 2200
Chapter 2300
Chapter 2400

310.1 Novelty or Ingenuity

310.1 Novelty or Ingenuity

The U.S. Copyright Office will examine each work in isolation to determine whether it satisfies the originality requirement. The fact that a work may be novel, distinctive, innovative, or even unique is irrelevant to this analysis. See H.R. REP. NO. 94-1476, at 51 (1976), reprinted in 1976 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 5664 (stating “the standard of originality established by the courts . . . does not include requirements of novelty [or] ingenuity” and that Congress did not intend “to enlarge the standard of copyright protection” to impose these requirements).

As discussed in Section 308, “originality requires independent creation plus a modicum of creativity.” Feist, 499 U.S. at 346. The author’s expression does not need to be novel, and it does not need to “be presented in an innovative or surprising way.” Id. at 362; see also L. Batlin & Son v. Snyder, 536 F.2d 486, 490 (2d. Cir. 1976) (“Originality is . . . distinguished from novelty; there must be independent creation, but it need not be invention in the sense of striking uniqueness, ingeniousness, or novelty”). A work of authorship may be original, even though it is neither new nor inventive or even if “it closely resembles other works.” Feist, 499 U.S. at 345 (explaining that “[o]riginality does not signify novelty”). Conversely, the fact that a work is new, innovative, or even unique does not necessarily mean that it contains a sufficient amount of creative expression to satisfy the originality requirement.

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