Copyright Compendium

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706 Copyrightable Authorship in Literary Works

706 Copyrightable Authorship in Literary Works


A literary work may be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office if it contains a certain minimum amount of literary expression that originated with the author of that work.


When a registration specialist examines a literary work, he or she determines whether the work contains a sufficient amount of original authorship “expressed in words, numbers, or other verbal or numerical symbols or indicia.” 17 U.S.C. § 101 (definition of “literary works”). In making this determination, specialists apply the legal standards set forth in the Copyright Act, the Office’s regulations, the Compendium, and the relevant caselaw. However, specialists do not look for any particular style of literary authorship, and they do not judge the “literary merit or qualitative value” of the work. H.R. REP. NO. 94-1476, at 54 (1976), reprinted in 1976 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 5667; S. REP. NO. 94-473, at 53

(1975).


For a general discussion of these legal standards, see Chapter 300, Sections 302 through 308.