With the increase in litigation over so-called “idea theft,” many aspiring writers are understandably concerned about protecting their work. They often ask whether you can “copyright an idea.” The short answer is no. The long answer is that there are ways to protect creative work.
The Copyright Act does not offer protection to “ideas” and “concepts.” While an author’s work is protected from the moment he or she writes it (although it’s a good idea to add a copyright notice – “© 2012 [name]” – before circulating it), that protection extends only to the more detailed expression of the creator’s idea, not to the underlying idea itself.
By way of example, there have been innumerable dramatic presentations of...