There was a discussion among some artists in the industry on Facebook recently about copyrighting words, phrases, expressions, etc. A book or poem can be copyrighted but 3 or 4 words can’t… those get trademarked and that’s a whole other, much more expensive can of worms…
So how do you know when you can protect a saying, when someone can sue you over a saying you think is in the public domain, etc? What makes some word combinations generic and others protectable?
Sometimes it is all enough to scare me into never using words in my art… but that never lasts long – I’m simply not the silent type. There aren’t 100% clear-cut answers – which is why there are courts, judges and IP attorneys. However, Sue Zipkin (who started this great discussion) did find a helpful article from Stanford University.
article from Stanford Univ: Copyright Protection for Short Phrases
Here’s to your creative – and less confused – success!
– Tara Reed
ps – here is the URL – if the link isn’t working, try copying and pasting. I’m traveling and not sure what is happening.