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On Thu, Jan 8, 2009 at 9:29 AM, Chris Wright <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Which means that, while I cannot send another person your entire
> corpus, I can send another person a selection of your corpus.

Not necessarily; see below.

> And while your grammar is copyrighted, I am not sending a copy of that
> grammar along with my message.

A grammar cannot be copyrighted; only particular forms of
explaining/documenting a grammar can be.

> So, while your corpus and grammar are
> copyrighted, that will not prevent me from using the language, any
> more than a copyright on the Oxford English Dictionary would prevent
> me from using English.

Not necessarily so. Even a part of a copyrighted work comes under copyright.

As I said earlier, this is not the same as the OED. In the case of
dictionaries, maps, phone books, etc., courts have ruled that - even
if the company publishing the information did all the research to
discover it - only the particular form of the compendium is copyright,
not the information itself. But this is only true because of the
presumption that that information (i.e. actual geography, phone
numbers, vocabulary used, etc) is floating out there preƫxistingly.

However, a conlang vocabulary is necessarily the *creation* of its
author, rather than a mere *discovery*. As such, it would be protected
by copyright. In order to use even a portion of it without permission,
you'd have to claim fair use exclusion.

The tests for 'fair use' are (quoting the USPTO):
* the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is
of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
* the nature of the copyrighted work;
* amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the
copyrighted work as a whole; and
* the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the
copyrighted work.

In this case you're discussing point 3.

I think that most judges would agree that something that is nearly
100% sourced from copyrighted work (i.e. other than neologisms) would
count as protected.

You could still argue that is fair use under one of the other points,
but that's a very different argument from whether it is copyrighted to
begin with.

- Sai