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

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808.7 (C) Human Authorship


808.7 (C) Human Authorship


A motion picture must contain creative human authorship. A motion picture created by a non-human author, created by a purely mechanical process, or generated solely by preexisting software is not copyrightable.




• The applicant submits an application to register a work titled Punish the Producers. The applicant explains that the author transferred the motion picture from film to DVD, a process referred to as “digitization.” The registration specialist will refuse the claim, because digitization is a mechanical process lacking any creative human authorship.


• A chimpanzee picks up a video camera, inadvertently turns it on and records images. The applicant submits a claim in a motion picture, naming the chimpanzee as the author. The registration specialist will refuse to register the claim, because the author is not a human being.


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