Questioning Copyright in Standards

Pamela Samuelson, "Questioning Copyright in Standards", Boston College Law Review, vol 48, no. 1, pp. 193-224. (January 2007)


Widespread adoption of uniform standards is essential to the smooth operation of our modern global economy. When private or-ganizations develop such standards, copyright protection of those stan-dards often creates a conºict between private intellectual property rights and society's need for standards. This conºict is especially appar-ent when a local or state government adopts a privately drafted standard as law. This Article considers whether coding system standards should be eligible for copyright protection as a matter of U.S. copyright law by examining the case law's treatment of copyright protection for coding system standards and considering the policy concerns implicated by copyrights in standards. The Article concludes that, in light of case law, the statutory exclusion of systems from U.S. copyright protection, the scenes a faire and merger of idea and expression doctrines, and broader policy considerations, standards should fall outside the scope of U.S. copyright protection.


Last updated:

September 20, 2016