Minimum Original

Maybe this won’t float your boat, but I love the United States Copyright Office’s descriptions of things that are not copyrightable. I’m probably reading too much into them, but it’s as if they’re governmental equivalent of a sensible, logical, patient librarian aunt. Like the circular on Names, Titles, and Short Phrases: even if “it lends itself to a play on words,” a short phrase can’t be copyrighted. It’s like the government patting you on the head and saying “yes, that is very funny, dear.” Then there’s Recipes (no “mere listings of ingredients”), Ideas, Methods, or Systems (no “procedures for doing, making, or building things”), Games (neither the name of the game nor the “method or methods for playing”), and best of all, Blank Forms (and by the way, not only can you not copyright something blank, the same goes for totally unoriginal things, like “standard calendars, height and weight charts, tape measures and rulers, schedules of sporting events”).

Tape measures and rulers? Do you see what I mean about patience?

If you do need your boat floated, there’s always the aspect of copyright law that applies to vessel hull design.