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Christophe Grandsire wrote:
> Well, I'm no legal expert, but I think this person's opinion shows a complete
> misunderstanding of our work. Arguing that Tolkien's languages are not
> copyrightable because they are not "original enough" sounds to me like arguing
> that no painting is copyrightable because they are mere combinations of colours
> and strokes, which have already probably all been used by some painter in the
> past, and are thus not "original enough" either.

I'm not sure that that's the best of examples. I think it would've been
better to say that arguing that a library (as in a program that by
itself doesn't really do anything, but helps other programs do stuff,
.DLLs on Windows) is uncopyrightable because it's only a series of ones
and zeros and used to build up other things. Languages are like the
libraries of stories, poems and songs.

> Also, this guy keeps saying
> that "the mere fact that a work is copyrighted does not mean that every element
> of the work may be protected", and yet discusses about Tolkien's languages in
> terms of their elements to build his opinion about their copyrightability,
> something which is incorrect to do since "the mere fact that a work is
>  copyrighted does not mean that every element of the work may be
protected".

IANAL, but: No. He's saying that even if Tolkien claimed copyright on
his languages, it's irrelevent because taken individually, each element
isn't copyrightable, so he's only got copyright on that particular
arrangement of things, not the things themselves, which means that
another arrangement should be okay (I think).

> If
> you take this statement the other way round, it means that discussing about
> elements of a work is moot, as it's not through them that it's decided whether
> a work is copyrightable. In short, saying that the elements of Tolkien's
> languages are not "original" doesn't say anything about the languages *as a
> whole*, and thus his point is moot.

But you never use a language as a whole, only in bits and pieces. In a
story, it's not just the particular arrangements of words, but the plot
too, that gets copyright. If I re-wrote Harry Potter and the Chamber of
Secrets, I'd (rightly) be screwed.

Personally, I'm not sure I understand the concept of copyrighting a
language.

Tristan.