Copyright Compendium

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Chapter 2400

618.8 (A) (5) Story, Story Idea, Story Concept, Story Line

 

618.8 (A) (5) Story, Story Idea, Story Concept, Story Line

 

As a general rule, the applicant should use one or more of the terms set forth in Section 618.4 (C) to describe the copyrightable authorship that the applicant intends to register.

 

The applicant should not use the terms “story,” “story idea,” “story concept,” “story line,” or the like in the Author Created field or the Nature of Authorship space, because these terms do not clearly describe copyrightable authorship.

 

Example:

 

An application is submitted for a children’s play that is based on the story of Hansel and Gretel. Harry Wheeler is named as the author of the “script.” The registration specialist will register the claim.

 

If an applicant uses the term “story” in the application, the registration specialist may register the claim if he or she determines that the applicant is referring to the text that appears in the work (rather than the idea for the story).

 

Example:

 

• An application is submitted for a screenplay naming Johanna Eagen as the author of “story and dialog.” The registration specialist may register the claim, because the applicant is clearly asserting a claim in the text of this work (although “script” or “screenplay” would be a more appropriate authorship statement).

 

If an applicant asserts a claim in a “story idea,” “story concept,” “storyline,” or the like, and if it is clear from the information provided in the deposit copy(ies) or elsewhere in the registration materials that the author contributed copyrightable authorship to the work, the registration specialist may register the claim. In addition, the specialist may add an annotation to the record stating that ideas are not copyrightable.

 

Examples:

 

• An application is submitted for a play naming James Beck as the author of “story idea and play” and Bob Bobelli as the author of “play.” The statement in the application indicates that James and Bob contributed copyrightable authorship to this work. The registration specialist may register the claim with an annotation, such as: “Regarding authorship information: Ideas not copyrightable. 17 USC 102 (B).”

 

• An application is submitted to register a proposal for a new television series. The applicant names Sonny Capaldi as the author of “text and story concept.” Sonny appears to be the author of all the authorship that appears in this work, because he is the only author named on the deposit copy. If the proposal contains a sufficient amount of copyrightable authorship to justify a claim in “text,” the claim may be registered with an annotation, such as: “Regarding authorship information: Concept not copyrightable. 17 USC 102 (B). Registration extends to text deposited.”

 

If the applicant uses the term “story,” “story idea,” “story concept,” “storyline,” or the like in the Author Created field or the Nature of Authorship space, and if this is the author’s sole contribution to the work, the specialist will communicate with the applicant if the author’s contribution appears to be uncopyrightable or de minimis.

 

Examples:

 

• An application is submitted for a screenplay naming Evelyn Lauder as the author of “text.” A statement on the deposit copy reads “screenplay by Evelyn Lauder, story by Charles Bogart.” The statement in the application indicates that Evelyn contributed copyrightable authorship to this work. The statement on the deposit copy suggests that Charles merely contributed the idea or concept for the story. Charles’s contribution is uncopyrightable and therefore should not be claimed in the application. The registration specialist will register the claim without communicating with the applicant.

 

• An application is submitted for a play naming Samuel Loyer as the author of “story” and Pamela Judge as the author of “play.” A statement on the deposit copy reads “play by Pam Judge, based on concept by Sam Loyer.” The registration specialist will communicate with the applicant, because the statements given on the application and the deposit copy suggest that Samuel contributed only ideas or concepts to this work.