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

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707.3 Book Design

707.3 Book Design

The overall format or layout of a book or other printed publication cannot be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, regardless of whether the book is published in print or electronic form. Book design includes all of the physical or visual attributes of a book or printed publication, such as the choice of style and size of typeface, leading (i.e., the space between lines of type), the placement of the folio (i.e., page numbers), the arrangement of type on the pages, or the placement, spacing, and juxtaposition of textual and illustrative matter in the work.

The copyright law does not protect these elements because they fall within the realm of uncopyrightable ideas. Deciding how and where to place content in a book or printed publication is merely a process or technique, regardless of the number of decisions involved. The fact that “a work is distinctive, unique or pleasing in appearance, and embodies certain ideas of contrast or coloring does not necessarily afford a basis for copyright protection.” Registration of Claims to Copyright: Notice of Termination of Proposed Rulemaking Regarding Registration of Claims to Copyright in the Graphic Elements involved in the Design of Books and Other Printed Publications, 46 Fed. Reg. 30,651, 30,652 (June 10, 1981).

For a further discussion on “design” as an authorship term, see Chapter 600, Section 618.8 (A) (1).

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