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Re: this is what I got in the mail.

From:John Cowan <cowan@...>
Date:Sunday, March 16, 2003, 23:24
Sally Caves scripsit:

> It would belong to you you you in what legal way, John? You you you would > have no rights to it, either, under the conditions you just described. I > could blithely ignore your text in my Teonaht and go on to publish my novels > and short stories about the Teonaht and their language, and their peoples.
Oh yes, I didn't mean that I would own Teonaht, any more than you do (in the eyes of the law). I meant that I would own *my text* written in the language. You could not sue to prevent its publication, and if you published it without my permission, *I* could sue *you*.
> SidheMaiden's post with the argument about Tolkien and fair use was very > interesting, and coheres with what little I learned about copyright when I > was writing for Star Trek: TNG twelve years ago. You can register your > script with the Writer's Guild, but you can't register your idea. So long > as somebody doesn't use a sentence of yours, they can steal steal steal your > idea, and there's very little you can do about it. Copyright laws for > screenwriters, at least, cover their sentences, not their ideas.
The same is true for other kinds of writers, painters, sculptors, and computer programmers. Copyright law covers expression, not idea, and if expression and idea are irrevocably intermingled (e.g. there is only one way to express the idea) then there is no copyright available.
> The same > goes, I suppose for one's language and its structure. Someone could write > anything they wanted in my Teonaht, but they would have a hard time claiming > that they INVENTED it. Or that they have a right to it. George and his > Game raises an interesting question, though, about the extent to which we > own a CONLANG. People can imitate the style of a Renoir or a Van Gogh, or > even a well-known contemporary artist, but if the picture they paint using > that style is an original composition, I think they can sell it. It's > forgeries that are forbidden. <G>
Yes, because they defraud. In fact, there is a fellow who makes a good living selling forgeries of famous artists (not copies, but paintings in their style and with a duplicate of their signature). Since he clearly labels what he is doing, there is no fraud.
> It's an interesting question. To what extent has Giger put a "copyright" on > his STYLE of painting?
He can't. Style is not fixed in a tangible medium, even though the paintings that express that style are.
> I thought of doing this, though. He wants a language for his Dwarves: why > not sell one to him? He wants a language with some kind of rudimentary > structure, but mostly with vocabulary for spell casting and onomastics. I > thought, somewhat frivolously, of designing one for him and selling it to > him at ten dollars a word. <G> Or, more reasonably, twenty-five dollars an > hour. I'm a pretty decent linguist. I think an earthy, rich-sounding > ergative language would suit the ergonic Dwarves pretty well (if they are > anything like Tolkien's Dwarves).
Sure. Make him an offer. But of course he can't get exclusive rights from you, because there is no such thing.
> What is arrogant (more > likely ignorant) about his request is that we're all dying to get our > languages used by some Roll Playing Game Master who thinks our conlang would > fit, say, their Trolls. Or their Orcs. Prro:ka!!
I'm curious about this: you also wrote "roll playing" in your Survey. Is this a pervasive typo, or a parodic distortion? The conventional spelling (and I think meaning) is "role-playing". -- John Cowan To say that Bilbo's breath was taken away is no description at all. There are no words left to express his staggerment, since Men changed the language that they learned of elves in the days when all the world was wonderful. --_The Hobbit_


Sally Caves <scaves@...>roll-playing