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The March Hare and Horton's Credo -- Why ''To Copyright Or Not To Copyright'' Is A Stupid Question



By Gary R. Maze of Berenbaum Weinshienk PC

“Then you should say what you mean,” the March Hare went on.
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

“I meant what I said and I said what I meant.”
Dr. Seuss, Horton Hatches The Egg

Copyright law is interesting and complex. Although it deals with expressing ideas, imprecise use of language by courts can make copyright law needlessly more complex. Unfortunately, many courts (and lawyers) use “copyright” as a verb or adjective, and it is not.

“Verbification” - turning a noun into a verb - dates to at least 18711 and is still with us, e.g. people are “bused” to a meeting where one will “head” a committee convened to “google” for information. Although the meaning arising from some instances of verbification are clear, verbification of “copyright” leads to obfuscation. In the words of Calvin and Hobbes, it is a fine example of how “Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding.”2

“Copyright” is a not a verb but, instead, is a noun, encompassing a bundle of protection rights provided by the Copyright Law, including but not limited to making copies.

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