Friday, July 29, 2011

Copyright for Literary, Scientific and Artistic Works

29 July 2011

The Living Letter by Alvin Buenaventura of FILCOLS
Translated from Filipino by Beverly W. Siy

Copyright for literary, scientific and artistic works

Do you know that ideas, processes, systems, concepts, principles, discoveries, facts and procedures are not copyrightable?

Because they are just building blocks that authors need in order to create a work. Ideas for a love story are abundant and are always available. An example of this is the story of a beautiful, poor woman who fell for a rich guy. This guy fell in love with her as well. He is an only child and the sole inheritor of a big time business. It’s almost a perfect love story. But here comes a rich and dazzling girl with an evil mind (and laughter too). She is very much in love with the guy and will do everything just to get his attention, love and money as well. There goes a perfect love triangle.

Any poet or fictionist may use this idea to create new works. If the person who came up with this particular idea will be given copyright, we might not encounter another literary work, song, movie or stage play about the aforementioned love triangle. And that is because it is already copyrighted. This might result to a drought in the fountain of creativity. People might also get bored with the story of this love triangle written by just one author.

In literature or any written works, letters of the alphabet and the words are considered as building blocks.

In the visual arts, it is the shapes and colors. Colors like red, yellow, blue and others are not copyrightable, as well as the shapes like circle, square, rectangle and more. If these building blocks of the visual arts were copyrightable, most of the drawings and paintings will be deprived of colors and shapes. And what kind of visual artworks will they be? Even the most abstract artwork needs the most basic of colors and shapes.

The creative consolidation of shapes , mixture and teaming up of colors become paintings, drawings and visual art works. These are original expressions of ideas of the painters and artists. These are the final products and these are the creations that can be copyrighted. It can be a t-shirt design, sculpture, book illustration and others.

In the field of music, the notes and sounds are building blocks, therefore, they are not copyrightable. Your father-in-law can never claim that he’s got copyright over the C note or the B flat note. If that happens, most of our songs will be incomplete, most of the compositions will be a pain to listen to and music will never be the same again.

These building blocks are used by composers, musicians and lyricists to create beautiful songs and entertaining compositions. These songs and compositions are the final products of creative processes and therefore, they are the ones copyrightable.
In the field of science, the discoveries, facts and names are building blocks. These are not copyrightable as well.

Conotoxin from a marine snail or sea snail was discovered by Dr. Lourdes J. Cruz and Dr. Baldomero M. Olivera, two National Scientists of our country.

Conotoxin is a kind of poison used by marine snails to catch their meal. They eat tiny fishes and other tiny marine creatures. The facts about conotoxin and the names of Dr. Cruz and Dr. Olivera are not copyrightable. If these were copyrightable, nobody can write about it anymore except for the person who owns its copyright.
The two scientists need to talk about and discuss their discovery through articles and by writing about Conotoxins and the marine snails that can be found in the Philippines.

Their articles will include building blocks like discovery, facts, and names.
Only the scientific articles of Dr. Cruz and Dr. Olivera are the materials that are copyrightable.

Ideas, names, notes, colors, shapes and others are still very important even if they are not copyrightable. Simply because they are the building blocks of any creation.

Authors, publishers or heirs of copyright owners are invited to join FILCOLS. We will help you protect your copyright over your works. To join, one only needs to have published works, or one must be the heirs of an author or has the right to manage the rights of an author. Membership is free. If you have queries, email us at

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