Talk:Idea–expression divide

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Even more eloquently, Latham CJ in the Australian decision of Victoria Park Racing and Recreation Grounds Co. Ltd v. Taylor (1937) 58 CLR 479 and 498 said that if you are the first person to announce that a man has fallen off a bus, you cannot use the law of copyright to stop other people from announcing that fact.

Is that more eloquent? It's clearer, certainly, but I don't know that that constitutes eloquence. --Charles A. L. 15:53, Dec 10, 2003 (UTC)

Does this idea conflict with that of intellectual property? --anonymous
This article discusses copyright, which has an idea-expression divide. You may be thinking of trade secrets, which do not have an idea-expression divide. Perhaps you got confused by the use of the umbrella term "intellectual property", which lumps completely separate legal environments together; if so, this gives more weight to Mr. Stallman's arguments against the term. --Damian Yerrick 16:44, 4 December 2005 (UTC)


How does the idea-expression divide relate to maps?

At one extreme you could look at a map that shows that Paris lies within the border of france and draw a box, label it "France" and put a dot in the middle somewhere to represent Paris. Surely that's fine, as you are merely re-expressing the idea, not copying the work.

So then you take a map and note that the coastline of an area goes from point (x1,y1) to (x2,y2) then to (x3,y3)... and back to (x1,y1) again. An you make your own map, using this information, that joins up those points.

Taking this to an extreme, you could get a computer to analyse where all the points are, convert them to a raw expression of the idea (as co-ordinates) and then draw your own map using those co-ordinates.

And how is that different from copying that map?

Ben Arnold 04:15, 9 September 2005 (UTC)

So you've made a map in the form of a polygon, but the map is not the territory. Your map has vertices; a territory bordered by natural features does not, instead appearing continuous at the classical scales used for cartography. I'd guess that in this case, the shape of the territory is the idea, and a polygon in some sort of GIS vector format, the choice of what internal bodies of water and what internal political boundaries to represent or omit, and how to label things, make up the expression. If you were to take or acquire aerial photographs, you could autotrace those and create a new work, where the creativity lies in your choice of autotrace program, its settings, and any manual touch-up that you do afterward. --Damian Yerrick 16:44, 4 December 2005 (UTC)

Page name correct?[edit]

Is "idea-expression divide" the British usage? Most of the texts I've seen use "idea-expression dichotomy". Bryan 15:07, 14 December 2005 (UTC)

Legal Question[edit]

in the first line it talks about the purpose of the law. I assume this means copyright law and not all law in general. this should be fixed if correct.

The topic Merger Doctrine - Copyright Law redirects to this page. Someone with a more complete education on the subject matter than I have should clarify this topic. "Merger Doctrine" redirecting to the Idea/Expression dichotomy page implies synonymous nature. However, the Merger Doctrine, as I understand it, relies most often not on Baker v. Selden, the case correctly cited as introducing the Idea/Expression distinction, but on Morrissey v. Proctor & Gamble (some 87 years later). This later doctrine doesn't so much distinguish between idea and expression and the protection afforded via copyright, rather it addresses the difficulty of affording any protection when the idea and expression merge to such an extent that only a finite range of possibilities exist by which the idea may reach expression. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jgrutter (talkcontribs) 02:55, 2 September 2011 (UTC)

Murky divide[edit]

I think it might be good if we had a section here on the places where it can get quite murky. The canonical cases are easy to divide into one or the other. But what about, say, writing a book that has extremely strong resemblances to the plot and characters of the Harry Potter series? One can say, "well, the idea of a wizard school for children, one of whom has a magic birthmark, and heavy glasses" is just an idea, but the US courts will probably rule it as infringement (as they have a number of times). In my mind this is where the idea/expression divide breaks down completely, when things like characters and general plots become "expressions" completely disconnected with whatever words are specifically written down on the page (in the sense that the resulting work would clearly be judged as "derivative"). In fact the whole problem of derivative works itself seems to heavily blur the idea/expression divide when applied to anything other than strict copying and pasting. Now this is all too much original research to be added to this page, but surely I'm not the only person to have thought of this or to have formulated it in this way. --Mr.98 (talk) 12:55, 28 May 2010 (UTC)

Scènes à faire Versus merger doctrine[edit]

Merger doctrine is redirected here and I am not sure why. This article states that Scènes à faire and Merger doctrine are the same, "In the United States this is known as the merger doctrine...". The 9th Circuit Court gives a related but clear distinction between the two. Otr500 (talk) 19:34, 1 September 2013 (UTC)

Correct. I did some fixing. But this article needs more work from somebody. BD2412 ? Edcolins ? Eastlaw ? Minor4th ? Otr500 ?
PraeceptorIP (talk) 19:40, 18 March 2016 (UTC)