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  "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing"
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Idea-Expression Dichotomy

Some people, and far too many corporate lawyers, think a copyright gives them the rights to the idea rather than the expression of that idea. We have several in The Tabberone Trademark and Copyright Abusers' Hall of Shame. Congress is of no help in the matter. Instead of trying to follow the European copyright model, the United States should be telling Europe to follow our examples.

The Copyright Act expressly sets forth that copyright protection does not extend to "any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery." This rule, the idea-expression dichotomy, means that ideas, as opposed to expression, are not copyrightable.

If an idea were copyrightable then there would be only one detective, Sherlock Holms, one super hero, Superman, and one cartoon character that was a duck, Donald Duck (say goodbye to Daffy Duck). It is the expression of the idea that can be copyrighted, such as Sherlock Holms, Sam Spade and Dick Tracy. If an idea for a product is original it could qualify for a patent but not a copyright.

from Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. v. Nation Enterprises, 471 US 539 - Supreme Court 1985:

The Second Circuit noted, correctly, that copyright's idea/ expression dichotomy "strike[s] a definitional balance between the First Amendment and the Copyright Act by permitting free communication of facts while still protecting an author's expression." 723 F. 2d, at 203. No author may copyright his ideas or the facts he narrates. 17 U. S. C. 102(b). See, e. g., New York Times Co. v. United States, 403 U. S. 713, 726, n. (1971) (BRENNAN, J., concurring) (Copyright laws are not restrictions on freedom of speech as copyright protects only form of expression and not the ideas expressed); 1 Nimmer 1.10[B][2]. As this Court long ago observed: "[T]he news element the information respecting current events contained in the literary production is not the creation of the writer, but is a report of matters that ordinarily are publici juris; it is the history of the day." International News Service v. Associated Press, 248 U. S. 215, 234 (1918). But copyright assures those who write and publish factual narratives such as "A Time to Heal" that [page 557] they may at least enjoy the right to market the original expression contained therein as just compensation for their investment. Cf. Zacchini v. Scripps-Howard Broadcasting Co., 433 U. S. 562, 575 (1977).

From Eldred v. Ashcroft, 537 US 186 - Supreme Court 2003:

[page 219] As we said in Harper & Row, this "idea/expression dichotomy strike[s] a definitional balance between the First Amendment and the Copyright Act by permitting free communication of facts while still protecting an author's expression." 471 U.S., at 556 (internal quotation marks omitted). Due to this distinction, every idea, theory, and fact in a copyrighted work becomes instantly available for public exploitation at the moment of publication. See Feist, 499 U.S., at 349-350.

[emphasis added]

What the Supreme Court is saying is that as soon as an idea is expressed it is public domain. Corporate lawyers send cease and desist letters trying to intimidate people from the lawful use of ideas when the law plainly says otherwise. Why do these corporate lawyers do this? For the money. This is copyright abuse. Corporate lawyers who engage in this practice should be dis-barred.

We have several designers in The Tabberone Trademark and Copyright Abusers' Hall of Shame who have, and are, falsely and illegally claiming they own their ideas and they are interfering with legitimate sales that they claim are infringing. these are some of them:
  • Aanraku Stained Glass, and its idiot owner, Jeffrey Castaline, for going around claiming they own an idea that is functional and therefore not protectable. A nod to the lawyers for Aanraku Stained Glass for being so stupid as to not know their field of practice.

  • AnimeHot, a Nevada-based company run by some idiots who have no real understanding of copyright law or the eBay VeRO program. They shut down people when they didn't have a valid copyright. And, they have never apologized.

  • Bubble Charms and its tight-assed owner, Diane Stewart, a whack-job who doesn't understand copyright law and who, while guilty herself of major infringements, is unlawfully ordering eBay auctions to be terminated, harming lawful eBay sellers.

  • m3 girl designs
  • , and Maddie Bradshw, who at 13 years old is the youngest member of the Hall of Shame, and her idiot corporate lawyer, D. Scott Hemingway. Maddie and her lawyer think she owns all rights to interchangeable magnetic jewelry which has been around since before she was born.

  • Scotia Starr a Canadian knitter, who thinks her "ideas" give her the right to terminate eBay auctions. She is also a member of the Canadian Knitwear Designers & Artisans. She never apologized for what she did or retracted her takedowns.

  • HattieRex, owned by some whack job designer named Tessa Long, seems to think they own the "idea" of doggie jewelry because Tessa Long owns two copyrights for same. What is in the Water in Rolla, Missouri?

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