Original Work of Authorship Law and Legal Definition

Under U.S. copyright laws, original work of authorship refers to any type of expression independently conceived by its creator. As long as a particular expression has been independently created, it need not be original in the sense of new. For example, if a person “A’ never heard of or read a book named ‘X’, written by ‘B’, but somehow managed to write a play very similar to it, A’s book would qualify as original, and would be protected by copyright law. Many creations qualify as works of authorship, including sheet music, movies, records, tape recordings, video disk productions, computer software, laser disk games, cartoons, designs, magazines, poems and books.

A few categories that do not qualify as original work of authorship include titles of books, movies and songs; short phrases and slogans; printed forms; compilations of facts; and works consisting entirely of information that is public domain property like, lists and tables taken from public documents. These items are considered too short or too lacking in originality to qualify for copyright protection.