804.8 (B) Synopses
The Office frequently receives copyright applications to register brief synopses that summarize other works of authorship. When preparing an application to register such works, the applicant should assert a claim in the synopsis itself, but often applicants erroneously describe the work that is summarized in the synopsis (e.g., a television show).
If the synopsis contains sufficient copyrightable textual expression, but the applicant erroneously describes the author’s contribution as a “dramatic work” or “script,” the registration specialist will add an annotation to the record, such as: “Regarding authorship information: Deposit contains synopsis only.” If the synopsis contains sufficient textual expression, but the applicant erroneously describes the author’s contribution as an idea, concept, or the like, the specialist will communicate with the applicant.
Where the synopsis is very short and/or merely amounts to an idea (e.g., “I have an idea for a television show that will feature famous guest stars”), the specialist will refuse registration if the authorship is insufficient to support a claim in a dramatic work or literary work. Where the work contains sufficient text to be copyrightable, but it is clear that the applicant is seeking to protect the idea, the specialist may add an annotation to the record, such as: “Regarding authorship information: Ideas not copyrightable. 17 USC 102 (B).”