Copyright a Chilean Note

The author who said, “estamos bien en el refugio los 33” has registered a copyright on the phrase.

So what, you ask?

That phrase, written in red ink, announced to the world that the trapped Chilean miners were alive and well down there in the broken mine.

That copyright registration has some pretty interesting ramifications.

First, it’s a very (very) short work of authorship; in the USA, one sentence very, very rarely, if ever, qualifies for copyright registration. Senor Ojeda registering his sentence, it seems to me, is something like Capt. James Lovell registering “Houston, we have a problem.” Are we seeing a muddling building between copyright and trademark?

Second, you know there will be movies made about this incident. If the copyright on the note is registered, the moviemakers will have to pay a chunk of money to license the use of the text for their movies, at least for those movies distributed in Chile. If an “author” can register copyright on essentially a tagline, it looks like Chile might be redefining the concept of “authorship.” After all, how much creative thought goes into the statement of the fact that all 33 miners are safe in the mine?

What does the registration of what is essentially a tagline under copyright bode for the future of copyright?