5 Things That Can’t Be Copyrighted
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5 Things That Can’t Be Copyrighted

5 Things That Can’t Be Copyrighted


Most of the artificial creations in the world have their original creator. That means, if anybody would like to use that creation, it will be necessary to ask for the right to use it. This is actually called the right of authorship – copyright. However, in such areas of human activity as literature, science, and art, there are things that cannot be copyrighted.

In those cases, the legislation does not provide for the definition of such a concept as it is considered that the right to authorship is obvious, and there is no need to give individuals explanations about the right of authorship. It is much more important in this case to give the definition of criteria for assigning the copyright to the objects.

This list will provide you with a deep insight into what works are not objects of copyright and explain how to distinguish this.

Objects and Their Copyright Criteria

The legislation provides two main criteria, which determine the need to protect the right to authorship. In addition, the law establishes the scope of the copyrights. Thus, the copyright includes works of literature, science, and art on the following criteria:

  • Works are the result of activities in the creative field.
  • The existence of works in any objective form.

If any of those criteria is absent, it is inadvisable to speak about the existence of the right of authorship of a work. It should be taken into account that the object of copyright can be not only the whole product but also its individual parts, for example, the name if it meets the specified criteria and has the ability to be used separately.


In case the above-mentioned criteria are not met, the object cannot have any right to the authorship. Apart from that, there are a few other notions that actually do not require any of the criteria and are considered as objects without the copyright by themselves. These are the documents that are recognized as official, namely, judgments, laws, as well as other texts of judicial and administrative practice and their officially certified translations.

Objects of copyright cannot be symbols and signs that are public. Those can be orders, emblems, flags, bank notes, etc.


The main cause why these works cannot be considered with copyright is quite simple – people who wrote a draft law or made a sketch of a banknote cannot influence their use since they are state property. That is why the phrase “the author of law or flag” should be only regarded inside the domestic context. There is no copyright meaning in this. It should be taken into account that the creative work on the systematization of court decisions, laws, as well as administrative and other acts is an excuse for assigning the result of such work to copyright law.

Copyright, among other things, does not apply to methods, ideas, processes, methods, systems, principles, concepts, facts, and discoveries. Such a restriction is not due to the state ownership of the work, but to the fact that copyright does not have the ability to provide the necessary control over these achievements.


The country’s copyright law protects works of literature, art, and science, depending not only on their objective form but also on the nature of creativity, but also taking into account their location, the way of promulgation and the citizenship of the creators. The totality of these factors is decisive for the scope of the right to authorship. The right to authorship is available to all published and unpublished works presented in an objective form within the territory of the country. The citizenship of authors and their successors does not matter.

Outside of our country, the copyright is recognized for the creators of works only if they have their original citizenship. Recognition of copyright for the work of foreign citizens occurs only on the basis of international treaties and regulated by specific legislation.

Therefore, now, with the ability to understand what things can be copyrighted and what cannot, you will have no problems with the issue of the right of authorship.

Melissa Anderson
Born in Greenville, North Carolina. Studied Commerce at Pitt Community College. Volunteer in various international projects aimed at environmental protection.
Former Customer Service Manager at OpenTeam | Former Company secretary at Chicago Digital Post | PlagiarismSearch Communications Manager
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