Re: Legal framework for consultancy work?

Subject: Re: Legal framework for consultancy work?
From: David Neeley <dbneeley -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
Date: Sat, 3 Dec 2005 10:58:27 -0600

On 12/3/05, Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca> wrote:

> You can't really copyright or trademark the _elements_ of a design
> unless those elements are themselves original (e.g., a logo or
> trademark phrase).


> All you can do is copyright a design that is clearly
> different from other designs. Think of it this way: I can't copyright
> any of the words in a dictionary, but I can--and do--copyright how I
> assemble those words.


> Analogously, you can't copyright round black
> bullets, but you can copyright a design that specifies an exact and
> unusual position from the margin combined with exact typographic
> treatment (e.g., font size, leading, kerning).

Incorrect. For example, fonts (the design) cannot be copyrighted, but
their *names* can be. There is some case law that says that the actual
arrangement of the design--the geometric expression of the design--can
be protected. However, if another implementation of the design is done
"from the ground up" it generally cannot be defended.

Manipulation of standard tools, such as adjustments of leading and
kerning through kerning tables or whatever--cannot be copyrighted.

Caveat: This is the law in the U.S., and insofar as I understand it
under international copyright conventions. As Geoff correctly pointed
out, if there is any sort of serious question it is best to ask a
lawyer knowedgeable about intellectual property law (and not all are,
by a very long shot!)

There *are*, however, some excellent guides to the law for writers and
creative endeavors of all kinds, many with specimen contracts that can
be easily adapted.


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Legal framework for consultancy work: From: The Documentation Doctor
Legal framework for consultancy work?: From: Geoff Hart

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