Most people, including lawyers, commonly associate copyright with writers, artists, musicians, and the media companies that employ them, more so than with scientists, physicians, pharmacologists, and their employers in life sciences and pharmacy fields. Whereas writers, sculptors, musicians, etc. depend almost entirely on copyright to protect their work, those working in life sciences and pharmacy rely on various forms of intellectual property, particularly patent and trade secret, in addition to copyright.

Unlike artistic and literary works like Disney characters and best-selling novels, intellectual property works of the life sciences and pharmacy sectors typically contain significant factual information, data compilations, formulas, algorithms, or inventions — none of which is protected by copyright. Nevertheless, these sectors produce vast quantities of copyrightable expression, particularly educational and marketing materials. For instance, a new hematology textbook may contain thousands of facts, but the author’s synthesis of these facts, and the engaging writing style in which he communicates this synthesis, is copyrightable expression. Likewise his photos of diseased cells, which he incorporated into his textbook.