"Original" redirects here. For other uses, see Original (disambiguation).

Originality is the aspect of created or invented works by as being new or novel, and thus can be distinguished from reproductions, clones, forgeries, or derivative works. An original work is one not received from others nor one copied from or based upon the work of others.. It is a work created with a unique style and substance. The term "originality" is often applied as a compliment to the creativity of artists, writers, and thinkers. The idea of originality as we know it was invented by Romanticism,[1] with a notion that is often called romantic originality.[2][3][4]

The concept of originality is culturally contingent. It became an ideal in Western culture starting from the 18th century.[5][6] In contrast, at the time of Shakespeare it was common to appreciate more the similarity with an admired classical work, and Shakespeare himself avoided "unnecessary invention".[5][7][8]

Originality in law

In law, originality has become an important legal concept with respect to intellectual property, where creativity and invention have manifest as copyrightable works. In the patent law of the United States and most other countries, only original inventions are subject to protection. In addition to being original, inventions submitted for a patent must also be useful and nonobvious.

In United States copyright law and the law of many other states, copyrights protect only original works of authorship, a property which has been historically and legally linked to a concept of "creativity". A work must pass a threshold of originality in order to be copyrightable.[9]

In United Kingdom intellectual property law, a derived work can demonstrate originality, and must do so if it is to respect copyright.

Original idea

An original idea is one not thought up by another person beforehand. Sometimes two or more people can come up with the same idea independently.

Original Recording

An original painting, photographic negative, analog audio or video recording, will contain qualities that can be difficult, or under current technology may be impossible to copy in its full integrity. That can also apply for any other artifact.

That is why it is often necessary to preserve the original, in order to preserve its original integrity. The copy is made to preserve the original recording by saving the original from degenerating as it is being played, rather than to replace the original.

See also


  1. Gregory (1997) pp. 12-13 quote:
    Modernist concern with issues of originality develops out of modernism's relation to romanticism, the romantics having invented the notion of originality as we know it.
  2. Smith (1924)
  3. Waterhouse (1926)
  4. Macfarlane (2007)
  5. 1 2 Lynch, Jack (2002) The Perfectly Acceptable Practice of Literary Theft: Plagiarism, Copyright, and the Eighteenth Century, in Colonial Williamsburg: The Journal of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation 24, no. 4 (Winter 2002–3), pp. 51–54. Also available online since 2006 at Writing World.
  6. Edward Young (1759) Conjectures on Original Composition
  7. Royal Shakespeare Company (2007) The RSC Shakespeare - William Shakespeare Complete Works, Introduction to the Comedy of Errors, p. 215 quote:
    while we applaud difference, Shakespeare's first audiences fovoured likeness: a work was good not because it was original, but because it resembled an admired classical exemplar, which in the case of comedy meant a play by Terence or Plautus
  8. Lindey, Alexander (1952) Plagiarism and Originality
  9. Feist v. Rural


External links

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