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

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313.3 (E) Format and Layout

313.3 (E) Format and Layout

As a general rule, the U.S. Copyright Office does not accept vague claims of “format” and/or “layout.” The general layout or format of a book, a page, a slide presentation, a website, a webpage, a poster, a form, or the like, is not copyrightable because it is a template of expression. These terms should be avoided and, if used, will be questioned by the registration specialist.

Copyright protection may be available for the selection, coordination, and/or arrangement of specific content, such as a compilation of artwork or a compilation of text, provided that the content is arranged in a sufficiently creative manner. However, the claim would be limited to the selection, coordination, and/or arrangement of that specific content, and it would not apply to the format and layout itself.

A standard or common selection, coordination, and/or arrangement of specific content or simple variations thereof will not support a claim of compilation authorship and cannot be registered with the Office. If the content that appears in the work is copyrightable, but the selection, coordination, and/or arrangement of that content is not, the claim should be limited to the copyrightable content that the author contributed to the work (e.g., text, artwork, etc.) and the compilation authorship should not be included in the claim.

For a general discussion of format and layout, see Chapter 900, Section 906.5.

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