Friday, July 1, 2011

Copyright for original and permanent creations

1 July 2011

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

Copyright for original and permanent creations

Q. When can you say that a creation is original?

A. A creation can be considered original if it came out naturally from the author. Meaning, the author did not derive it or a substantial part of it from another creation.

For example, every painter has his or her (I will use her…) own way of painting, her own style of mixing colors, her own way of presenting a perspective. The style that was taught or not taught in the art school where she came from affects her as well. There is also an impact on her style if she didn’t undergo formal training or classes. Her personal preferences like the subjects that she want to paint contribute to the uniqueness of her personality and of her way of creating.

Her work will be different from the work of a painter who went to another art school, painter who had formal training under an established artist and painter who prefers a different set of subjects to work on.

Just like everyone else, writers do experience falling in love. They present the feeling in 1001 different ways and manners. Their presentations of the same feeling differ from one another when they write about it. One may write about the love that bloomed under a kalachuchi tree. It could be in a hilarious tone. Another writer may write about the way he falls in love with the mysterious shadow inside his cabinet. Another may write about her classmate whom she fell in love with when they were still in kindergarten. In Ilonggo and in free verse form of poetry!

In short, a creation or a literary work is original if it is seriously related to the unique personality (and other factors) of the creator or the artist.

Another thing to learn today: creations need to be permanent and fixed. They should be written or printed on a paper or other materials. These can also be encoded using a word processing software. Another way of fixation is creating an artwork on a canvass. For sculpture, the images should be sculpted on rock, piece of wood and other materials.

Originality and fixation are required to determine if the work or the creation can be given protection through copyright.

Ideas are not copyrightable. Examples are love, teenager, vampire, werewolf, love triangle, and more. These are just ideas.

Plots of a story are also not copyrightable. For example, a teenager gets involved in a love triangle that involves a caring vampire and a sinister werewolf. This is just a plot of a story. It’s not yet copyrightable.

Any person who puts this idea on a paper still won’t have copyright over it. This is just an idea even if it’s already written on paper.

But once you have written and finished a novel, a poem or a short story based on the plot and you wrote it on a paper or a computer, you already earn the copyright. Your style, your way of naming the characters, your way of mixing and matching the verbs, adjectives and other parts of speech are your original expression of an idea: a love triangle involving a human being, a vampire and a werewolf.

Fixation like writing the work on a piece of paper or typing it on a computer is very important because it’s the basis of the publisher in reproducing your work. Reproduction of your work will allow many people to have access to your work.

It’s important to sculpt an image into a rock or a piece of wood or to paint an image on a canvass because these rock, piece of wood and canvass are the ones that will be seen by the consumers. These are the ones that will be displayed in a museum or in a home.

Your work will never be given protection if it forever stays in your skull. You can never file a case like copyright infringement because the poem that you have been itching to write since Grade 1 is still in your head. Don’t be surprised if one day you’ll find your father-in-law writing the same poem on a piece of paper.

So what are you waiting for? Your father-in-law’s creations? He just might be able to OUTCREATE you if you don’t act now. Write, paint and draw your original expressions of an idea.

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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