The Contours of Copyright #3: Too Short for Copyright?

It is axiomatic that copyrights do not protect words or short phrases. But how short is too short for copyright? 10 words? 5 words? 3 words? Consider Henny Youngman’s classic 4-word joke, “Take my wife … please.” Is that a copyrightable jocular expression, or an uncopyrightable short phrase (or, for you copyright pros, a merged …

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The Contours of Copyright #2: Can You Copyright Yoga Poses?

By Howard Zaharoff Section 102 of the Copyright Act tells us that “choreographic works” – i.e., dances – are protected by copyright. So if you’re Alvin Ailey or Saroj Khan, the copyright police will protect you if someone copies or publicly performs your original choreography. But what if you’re Beto Perez, who created Zumba; or …

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The Contours of Copyright #1: Can You Copyright Fast Foods?

By Howard Zaharoff As broad and creator-centric as copyright is, it doesn’t protect every creative output. For example, as a recent case confirmed – to no one’s surprise (probably not even the plaintiff’s) – copyright does not protect chicken sandwiches, nor even chicken sandwich recipes, nor even chicken sandwich names, no matter how original. The …

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