The Idea-Expression Dichotomy in Artistic Works: The Case Study in the United Kingdom

Mahfud, Mahfud ; Rani, Faisal A.


Under the idea/expression dichotomy, the protection of copyright extends only to an artist‟s original expression and it does not protect the ideas that are being expressed. Lord Hoffmann‟s decision in Designers Guild v Russel Williams (Textiles) Ltd has clearly interpreted that the idea that is only in the head that has been unexpressed in a copyrightable form is not entitled to copyright. Nevertheless, a problem may arise when the idea and its expression are difficult to be separated and they are considered to have merged or called as scenes a faire. As a result, this merger doctrine has caused the expression not copyrightable. In the UK, this merger doctrine can be seen from the House of Lord‟s decision in LB Plastics v Swish and Hanfstaengl v Baines.


Idea-Expression Dichotomy; Copyright; Design and Patent Act, 1988; Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Rights, 1994; artistic works; scenes a faire

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