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On Sat, Sep 26, 2009 at 10:55 AM, Kelvin Jackson <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> On a more general note: are the conWorld(s) that house one's language(s)
> copyrightable as well?

No, other than particular *things* that are in fixed form that
describe the conworld.

However, they do constitute "trade dress" and similar, more brand-like
IP - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trade_dress

E.g., you can't legally publish a new movie that looks like it's in
the Star Wars universe (even if you don't call it Star Wars or use any
other copyrighted material), except under fair use (e.g. for satire).

However, this protection is more limited than copyright. Trade dress,
like trademarks, has to be actively enforced or it's lost. And
originality still matters; if your conworld isn't distinct enough that
one wouldn't be able to clearly tell that some new novel set in it
used your conworld rather than some other one or one that the write
made up a priori that has coincidental similarities to yours, then you
don't have much of a case.

One example of this in the real world: http://www.wizards.com/d20 -
WotC licenses people to (limitedly) use their IP in Dungeons &
Dragons. You don't get to publish it without such a license or other
approval.

But this is one of the grayer areas of law AFAIU, because it's harder
to establish originality, dilution, and so forth.

- Sai