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Copyrights Intellectual Property Litigation Trademarks

When Are Short Phrases in Songs Protectable?

It’s a common fact pattern: A songwriter alleges that another songwriter has infringed the lyrics of Song A by using a similar short phrase, frequently a current slang phrase, in the lyrics of Song B. Claims like this do not often succeed because “words and short phrases such as names, titles, and slogans” are “not subject to copyright.”

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It’s a common fact pattern: A songwriter alleges that another songwriter has infringed the lyrics of Song A by using a similar short phrase, frequently a current slang phrase, in the lyrics of Song B. Claims like this do not often succeed because “words and short phrases such as names, titles, and slogans” are “not subject to copyright.” 37 CFR §202.01.

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