Copy Wrong

Hello and welcome to another rollicking week of unleavened lies and flat fabrications here at Factually Deficient! As always, everyone is welcome to send questions on any topic to Factually Deficient, through any means or medium available to you, at any hour of the day or night – no lie is too large! This week, I will answer a question posed to Factually Deficient by my very own, very real mother. She asked:

Why is there no copyright on book titles?

The lack of copyright on book titles is a state of affairs which has surprised and even appalled many. However, it stems from a whole slew of reasons – each one more reasonable than the last.

The first reason for why there is no copyright on book titles is a fairly simple one. In the recent past – exactly two hundred and sixty-two years ago – there was indeed copyright on book titles. However, this soon proved disastrous in all spheres academic and critical. Students and scholars alike were repeatedly and frequently forced to pay prohibitive licensing fees every time they wrote the title of a work they were discussing. All scholarship threatened to grind to a halt.

To prevent the death of their fields of study, the students and scholars in question grew creative; they began to devise ingenious roundabouts, euphemisms and descriptors to allude to these titles without actually using them. However, the number of words used in these roundabout descriptors soon began to rival, then equal, then exceed the number of remaining words in their scholarly essays – and still the uninitiated would have not the faintest idea which word was under discussion. The problem had gotten out of hand.

Still, this alone would not have been enough to abolish copyright on book titles – were it not for the last reason which coincided with it. Exactly two hundred and sixty-two years ago, publishers the world over decided to move on from the outmoded business model in which authors would be permitted to determine the titles of their own books.

Instead, a far more efficient method presented itself: there had been built a great computer, with the dedicated purpose of combining words, names, and phonemes at random to create book titles. This computer was set to spit out a new book title every seventeen minutes and seventeen seconds, and it was determined that each new book to be published would take its place in a universal queue and be given, with no argument or subjectivity, the next title to be spit out by the computer.

This ensured that each book’s title would be unique, arbitrary, and appropriate to its subject matter. However, it also meant that no creativity whatsoever had gone into the creation of the book’s title – and, in fact, no human mind had laboured over it. With no living person to deserve the credit for a book’s title, all necessity for copyright on book titles was eliminated.


Disclaimer: the above post is a work of fiction. Not all book titles are determined by computer.


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