OWs defined: Myows’ definition of Original Work
Published on 11.24.09
So Myows is all about protecting and managing… well Your OWs.
But what exactly is an OW?
The official version that you’ll find on the Myows site is: “Anything you create that is not a copy of something else and has been ‘reduced to material form’ (meaning it’s not just an idea).”
The list of file types that Myows accepts provides further clues:
Images (.jpg | .gif | .png | .bmp | .tif | etc.)
Video ( .mov | .avi | etc.)
Sound ( .mpg |. mp3 | etc.)
Text ( .doc | plain text)
Vector files ( .ai | .id | etc.)
Animation ( .fla | .swf )
But that still doesn’t fully demystify the OW in all its multi-faceted glory. We’re looking for a definition here. Myows is a legal service and so most of the definitions and processes provided to members have their basis in the law.
This is where the system gains its strength. Even though the courts are only a last resort, it’s good to know that you’re working with a system that has been designed to fit legal requirements should your copyright disputes ever come to that.
The idea of OWs is a simplification of the legal notion of a substantive and original creative work that has been reduced to material form – this is required for you to claim copyrights in said material. The word OW is an acronym; it stands for ‘original work’. Let’s break that apart.
Firstly an uploaded file needs to be original in order to qualify – it cannot be a copy of something that already exists. The exact definition of what constitutes ‘original’ depends on the type of work you’ve created. It may help to start off by looking at what the law considers to be a copy – ie: Not original.
In some cases this is clearly defined – such as lyrics that include a certain number of the same words in a row would be considered copied. Same with musical notes.
Images, film and artwork are a little more tricky. If the work is a ‘carbon copy’ then, clearly, the unauthorized copier is in the wrong. If the work is completely different she/he is safe. Anything in between needs to be decided by a competent court or arbitrator or judged by the public at large.
Original also means that the work needs to be unique and ‘ownable’ in nature… it needs to be distinct. You can’t claim copyright of the word dog for instance. Nor can you claim the word dog in Times New Roman as your logo. You also can’t claim the musical note ‘C minor’ as your own. Beware the overly simple OW – it may not be an OW at all!
Really complex OWs on the other hand may include multiple rights. For example, you can definitely claim your design for a new type of suborbital passenger aircraft. Such a design is definitely not in the public domain (as the word dog and the blue circle are) but if somebody challenged you and claimed ownership of a similar design, you’d have a complex battle on your hands.
OWs as complex as this often consist of thousands of smaller parts, designs and technologies which are not only copyrightable but also patentable – a separate and specialized branch of copyrights a little like trademarks.
Secondly, the work in question needs to be… well, a work.
An idea is not a work, a work needs to be ‘reduced to material form’.
Back to our example of the suborbital aircraft. The idea of a suborbital passenger aircraft is a good idea.
But it’s just an idea. You can’t have copyright in an idea.
Floor plans, engineering blue prints, logos, ad jingles, uniform designs, recipes for in-flight meals, etc. etc. etc. etc. – now those you can own.
So Original Works (OWs) then are substantive plans, designs, arts, writings etc that you created and that are unique and original (they wouldn’t exist if you didn’t exist).
Copyright law does depend, to some extent, on the law of the country, territory or region that you’re looking at. Generally however, copyright laws have been internationally standardized and last between 50 and 100 years after the author or creator’s death.
(find out much more at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright)