Copyright Compendium

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618.8 (A) (7) Plot

 

618.8 (A) (7) Plot

 

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 term “plot” in the Author Created field or the Nature of Authorship space, because it suggests that the applicant may be asserting a claim in the plan, scheme, or main idea for the work (which is not copyrightable), rather than the text, dialog, or other copyrightable expression that appears in the work.

 

Example:

 

• An application is submitted for a political thriller with a complicated plot. Tori Taylor is named as the author of the “text.” The specialist will register the claim.

 

If the applicant uses the term “plot” together with another form of copyrightable authorship in the Author Created field or Nature of Authorship space, the registration specialist may register the claim without communicating with the applicant. In this situation, the specialist will add an annotation to the record stating that ideas are not copyrightable.

 

Example:

 

• An application is submitted for a script naming Patrick White as the author of “plot, text” and Jane Watson as the author of “text.” The deposit copy states “teleplay by Patrick White and Jane Watson.” The statement in the application indicates that Patrick and Jane contributed copyrightable text to this work. The specialist may register the claim with an annotation, such as: “Regarding authorship information: Ideas not copyrightable. 17 USC 102 (B).”

 

If the applicant states that “plot” is the author’s sole contribution to the work, the specialist may register the claim if it is clear from the deposit copy(ies) that the author contributed copyrightable authorship to the work. In this situation, the specialist will add an annotation stating that ideas are not copyrightable and describing the copyrightable material that appears in the work.

 

Examples:

 

• An application is submitted naming Gregory Putter as the author of a “screenplay” and Jackson Place as the author of the “plot.” A statement on the deposit copy reads “screenplay by Gregory Putter and Jackson Place.” The specialist may register the claim without communicating with the applicant, because the statement on the deposit copy indicates that Gregory and Jackson contributed copyrightable authorship to this work. In addition, the specialist will add an annotation, such as: “Regarding authorship information: Ideas not copyrightable. 17 USC 102 (B). Copy states ‘screenplay by Gregory Putter and Jackson Place.'”

 

• An application is submitted for a treatment for a motion picture naming Benjamin Barker as the author of “plot.” The deposit copy states “by Ben Barker.” Benjamin appears to be the author of all the authorship that appears in this work, because he is the only author named in the deposit copy. If the treatment contains a sufficient amount of copyrightable text, the claim may be registered with an annotation, such as: “Regarding authorship information: Ideas not copyrightable. 17 USC 102 (B). Registration covers text deposited.”

 

If the applicant names two or more authors in the application, and if the applicant asserts a claim in “plot,” the specialist generally will ask for permission to remove that term from the application if it appears that one of the authors contributed only ideas to the work. If there appears to be no other basis for a valid copyright claim, the specialist will refuse registration.

 

Example:

 

• An application is submitted for a dramatic work naming Rosa Smith as the author of “drama” and Terry Jones as the author of the “plot.” A statement on the deposit copy reads “by Rosa Smith.” The registration specialist will communicate with the applicant, because the statements given on the application and the deposit copy suggest that Terry contributed only ideas to this work. If that is the case, the specialist will ask for permission to remove all of Terry’s information and the term “plot” from the registration record.