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   Author  Topic: form copyright protection  (Read 503 times)
Tom Ollie
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form copyright protection
« on: Dec 28th, 2005, 9:48am »
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Can I register for copyright a document with blank spaces for filling in, and if so what extent of protection do I get?
 
In my example, I want to copyright a form contract that I use for many different customers.  It is the form that I want to protect, not each and every contract.  So can I get a registered copyright if I sent to the copyright office a document that says, "This contract is formed by and between ____ and _____ ...."  And if I do this, do I get protection if someone uses the form but then fills in the blank with names?
 
Asked a similar way, if I write (and register for copyright) a 500 page book about a person named Ted Smith, and then someone basically steals the entire book but changes Ted Smith to Bob Jones, are they infringing and to what degree is my copyright protected?
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Isaac
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Re: form copyright protection
« Reply #1 on: Dec 28th, 2005, 9:57am »
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A circular at www.copyright.gov that discusses copyrighting a form suggests that "Blank forms and similar works designed to record rather than to convey information cannot be protected by copyright."
 
Your contract form may have some copyrightable expression in it, but I suspect that the copyright protection on a contract is fairly narrow and might only protect against slavish copying.
 
Simply changing the name of a character in a book would still result in a large amount of copyrightable expression being copied and distributed.  Such activities would be infringement.
 
 
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Isaac
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