An Analytical Study of Relevancy of Idea-Expression Dichotomy Under Copyright Law

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Journal Title: Journal of Legal Studies & Research
Author(s): Vaishali Sharma
Published On: 06/11/2023
Volume: 9
Issue: 5
First Page: 205
Last Page: 218
ISSN: 2455-2437
Publisher: The Law Brigade Publisher

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Vaishali Sharma, An Analytical Study of Relevancy of Idea-Expression Dichotomy Under Copyright Law, Volume 9 Issue 5, Journal of Legal Studies & Research, 205-218, Published on 06/11/2023, Available at


“Copyright only applies to Expressions”

The core principle of copyright law is that it only applies to expressions and in short this itself is the inception of the Idea-Expression Dichotomy.

The idea-expression dichotomy was formulated to ensure that the expression of an idea (i.e., expression), rather than the idea itself, is protected. This doctrine is widespread in the United States and is not entirely alien to Indian jurisprudence. Courts have repeatedly held that ideas  themselves are not copyrightable.

Copyright covers only  the expression of ideas. An idea is the formulation of an idea on a particular topic, and an expression is the realization of that idea. Many people may come up with the same idea themselves, but they can only claim copyright  in the form of the expression of that idea. Such expressions must be  specific sequences of words, numbers, or other forms. Therefore, such a principle makes it possible to use  multiple expressions for the same idea.

Keywords: Copyright, Idea-expression dichotomy, Patent, Originality of idea

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