Scenes A Faire Definition:
Elements of an original work that are so trite or common that they are not captured by copyright.
An intellectual property term used in reference to copyright to exclude from copyright and prevent alleged holders of copyright from attempting to assert exclusive ownership of elements of a work that are standard, stock or common either in general or in relation to a particular topic.
Under the scènes à faire doctrine, the courts will not protect, under copyright, commonplace elements.
In Herzog, Justice Middlebrooks wrote:
"Scenes a faire, sequences of events which necessarily follow from a common theme, are not protectable.
"Incidents, characters or settings that are indispensable or standard in the treatment of a given topic are not copyrightable."
Middlebrook gave as scenes a faire examples in the context of a murder-mystery dramatic production (movie):
- the drunk;
- the prostitute;
- derelict cars;
- the Irish cop; or
- the cop-and-robber foot chase.
In Evans v Wallace Berrie & Co., further examples were given in the context of a dramatic work on the topic of a fictional underwater civilization:
- using a sand dollar for currency;
- seahorses for transportation; and
- places made of oysters.
- Duhaime, Lloyd, Copyright Law
- Duhaime, Lloyd, Intellectual and Internet Law
- Evans v Wallace Berrie & Co. 681 F. Supp. 813 (1988)
- Herzog v Castle Rock Entertainment 193 F. 3d 1241 (US Court of Appeals, 1th Circuit, 1999), affirming the opinion of Florida district court judge Middlebrooks.
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