Merger in Copyright Law
One of the most important concepts in copyright is the distinction between ideas and expression. An idea cannot be copyrighted while expression can be. It’s not always easy to tell which is which, but the basic idea is that ideas are more abstract and expression is more concrete. It is also possible that for certain items there can be “merger” between an idea and its expression. In that case, no copyright protection can be given because that would be copyrighting an idea.
In the real world, very few copyrights are denied on merger grounds. The case that I use to teach the concept is from the early 1970s (Kalpakian) and concerns a jeweled bee pin. Here’s my question–are there other actual examples that people are aware of? It’s relevant because the issue may come up in the article that Deven and I are writing on 3D printing.