Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Copyright ( Answered 3 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Copyright
Category: Relationships and Society > Law
Asked by: lottomasta-ga
List Price: $25.00
Posted: 11 Jul 2006 01:14 PDT
Expires: 10 Aug 2006 01:14 PDT
Question ID: 745214
I won $1,008,742 on the lottery and want to publish the winning check
/ letter on my lottery website as proof I have actually won the
lottery myself.

The check / winners letter were sent to me and I assume they are my
property; also that I can publish both on my website.

Are there any copyright issues here ?  Obviously the name of the
Lottery and the issuing bank appear on the check.  Since the check
belongs to me, can I simply add it to my website ?  Do I need
acknowledgements ?  If so, can you advise ?

Thank you.
Subject: Re: Copyright
Answered By: kriswrite-ga on 11 Jul 2006 09:44 PDT
Rated:3 out of 5 stars
Hi lottomasta~

First, I want to address a common copyright misconception. You ask:
"Since the check belongs to me, can I simply add it to my website?" 
Just as someone who buys a book doesn't have the legal right to
reprint it (even though they "own" the book), possession of the check
in and of itself does not allow you claim copyright on it.

That said, the question you really need to ask is whether or not a
check is covered by copyright law. According to the U.S. Copyright
Office website, "copyrightable works include the following categories:

literary works; 
musical works, including any accompanying words 
dramatic works, including any accompanying music 
pantomimes and choreographic works 
pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works 
motion pictures and other audiovisual works 
sound recordings 
architectural works 

These categories should be viewed broadly. For example, computer
programs and most 'compilations' may be registered as 'literary
works'; maps and architectural plans may be registered as 'pictorial,
graphic, and sculptural works.'" ("What Works Are Protected?" U.S.
Copyright Office: )

In addition, the website states that the following are *not* copyrightable:

"Works that have not been fixed in a tangible form of expression (for
example, choreographic works that have not been notated or

Titles, names, short phrases, and slogans; familiar symbols or
designs; mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or
coloring; mere listings of ingredients or contents

Ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts, principles,
discoveries, or devices, as distinguished from a description,
explanation, or illustration

Works consisting entirely of information that is common property and
containing no original authorship (for example: standard calendars,
height and weight charts, tape measures and rulers, and lists or
tables taken from public documents or other common sources)" ("What Is
Not Protected by Copyright?" U.S. Copyright Office: )

A typical check is a "familiar design" with "mere variations of
typographic ornamentation [and] lettering." It is also something that
is "common property...containing no original authorship." So, unless
the check has some distinguishing features (like a logo design, which
would definitely be covered by copyright), you are not restricted by
copyright law to reproduce it in an otherwise legal manner.

As for the letter, whoever authored it, or whatever agency paid to
have the letter written, owns the copyright to it. You would need to
obtain written permission to reproduce the letter.

Kind regards,



Search of U.S. Copyright Office website

Clarification of Answer by kriswrite-ga on 03 Aug 2006 18:59 PDT
Hello lottomasta~

Why the low rating? It is always helpful when customers let
Researchers know why they aren't satisfied with an Answer. Often, the
Researcher can clarify and give the customer everything they want.


P.S. The copyright office has a circular on Fair Use ( ), but it's highly unlikely
that this would be fair use. For one thing, you'd be using it for
commercial gain...
lottomasta-ga rated this answer:3 out of 5 stars

Subject: Re: Copyright
From: tr1234-ga on 11 Jul 2006 18:12 PDT
It perhaps should be noted that copyright law does allow for so-called
instances of Fair Use, where one can make limited use of copyrighted
material without formal permission.

Though there's no cut-and-dried definition of what consititutes Fair
Use, it's theoretically possible that some kinds of usage described
here may be considered Fair Use, not necessarily requiring formal
permission of the copyright owner.

But if you're not confident in claiming Fair Use, yeah, it's always
best to approach the copyright holder for formal permission...

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy