This instability in copyright law is rooted in the fiction that we deny copyright protection to short phrases and single words because they lack originality. In fact, there are many short phrases that cross copyright’s low threshold of originality. This paper proposes that in order to stem any trend toward independent copyright protection of such microworks, we must recognize – and embrace – our implicit notion of a work. Single words, numbers, and short phrases are properly denied independent copyright protection not because they always lack originality, but because they are never works.
Fordham Law Review