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----- Original Message ----

From: Sai Emrys <[log in to unmask]>
AFAIK, the legal argument here is that, unlike a normal phonebook,
map, or dictionary, a conlang author has created the words that are
being listed - they're not externally existing information that is
being described.
- Sai

Theoretically, there's a minimal amount of information that can be copyrighted. There are some pretty short songs out there (Peter Gabriel's "We Do What We're Told (Milgram's 37)," for instance, effectively has 18 words, albeit repeated), and the courts are generally impatient with people writing the entire lyrics of a song and claiming "fair use," but I think trying to copyright a single word (i.e., a short phonemic string), especially thousands of acts of doing so, would stretch the bounds. I don't know what the precedent for the shortest copyrightable passage is, though. Fonts are somewhat analogous, being creative additions to existing knowledge, and the courts apparently tend not to support copyright protection there (http://www.typeright.org/feature4.html).

I would hope that the courts would see some sort of IP protection, be it patent, trademark, copyright, or "other," for a conlang (especially an artlang) creator who wants it, but it's hard to predict what they would actually do.

-- Paul