On June 18, 2012, the U.S. Copyright Office issued a Statement of Policy that limits copyright protection for exercise routines, sequences of yoga poses, compilations of dance steps and other compilations that the Office deems lacking in sufficient originality to merit copyright protection.
In the Statement, the Office clarified when it will (and will not) register a “compilation,” which is a work formed by the collection and assembling of preexisting materials. To qualify for registration as a compilation, Section 103 of the Copyright Act requires that “the resulting work as a whole constitutes an original work of authorship.”
In the Statement of Policy, the Office notes that “collections of facts are not copyrightable per se. . . . Not every selection, coordination, or arrangement will pass muster.” Although the Statement does not establish any bright line rules for what amount of selection, coordination, or arrangement will be sufficient, a review of the Statement’s examples provides some guidance:
- an original compilation of the names of an author’s 50 favorite restaurants is copyrightable, even though the restaurant names are pre-existing, as the selection and/or arrangement is the original work of the author;
- an arrangement of yoga poses or exercises in an exercise routine is not copyrightable, while a film or an original collection of drawings or photos showing those poses or exercises is copyrightable;
- a compilation of simple dance routines or social dance steps is not copyrightable, while an “arrangement of a related series of dance movements and patterns organized into an integrated, coherent and expressive whole” gives rise to choreographic authorship that is entitled to copyright protection.
The Statement of Policy published in the June 22, 2012 issue of the Federal Register.