Mind your Phrases!

The producers of “Game of Thrones” threatened to sue a 13-year-old girl for using the phrase “winter is coming” in art work she had uploaded to the internet and shared on social media. The producers of “Game of Thrones” argue that the phrase is central to the series and they own the rights to it.
On the face of it this is a worrying development. Copyright is there to protect the intellectual property of creatives (authors, painters, poets etc). It plays a vital role in ensuring the creator of content gains the credit for their creations and any monies that may be generated. However the phrase “winter is coming” has been around long before “Game of Thrones” was ever thought of. As someone with no legal background I find it difficult to comprehend how a phrase which has been used for centuries can be construed as belonging to any one individual or entity. I once used the sentence “autumn has come in all her beauty”. Can I now argue that the phrase belongs to me? I have no intention of doing so. I could however (invoking the logic which seems to be being employed above) threaten to take legal action against anyone who utilises the phrase “autumn has come in all her beauty”, unless, of course someone else used it prior to me doing so!
As always I would be interested in my readers views. For the article please visit HERE



19 thoughts on “Mind your Phrases!

  1. novelistbaba

    Wtf!………their whole production is based on the words of someone else……….i am a BIG fan………but this is savagery……they should get out of the world of GoT………..

  2. Lucy Brazier

    I read this article! As it happens, they couldn’t sue – ‘Winter Is Coming’ is not a patent, it isn’t trademarked and they don’t own the copyright on that phrase. I would be interested to see HBO’s assessment of damages incurred by the use of the phrase by the young girl in her artwork. If I were her her dad I’d let them take me to court. Besides, on the article I read it appears that it was the host website who sent the nasty email, not HBO, so goodness only knows what they were thinking.

    1. drewdog2060drewdog2060 Post author

      Thanks for your comment Lucy. I suspect many cases of this nature would not stand up in court. However if an organisation and/or individual with considerable resources and power threatens to sue, a lot of people will back down because (if the organisation/individual wins) the person being sued risks considerable losses, perhaps loosing their home to meet legal costs. Best, Kevin

      1. Lucy Brazier

        I agree it is disgusting that such large organisations can bully people in this way – it is a terrifying thing for most people to receive a communication such as this. I’m just glad I don’t watch Game Of Thrones now!

  3. Jack Eason

    God god almighty, what’s next? At some time or other I’m guessing that literally millions of us have repeated those exact same words when we’ve run out of other things to talk to one another about. The bloody idiots need to be told that they cannot claim the exclusive use of a specific phrase. Threatening a little girl says it all…

    1. drewdog2060drewdog2060 Post author

      Thanks for your comment Jack. I agree with you that millions of people will have used this self-same phrase (or one salmost identical to it) at some point in their lives. Again, I agree that threatening a child says it all.

  4. davidprosser

    To try and lay claim to mention of any season is stupid in the extreme. Perhaps anyone who notes the approach of that particular season in writing should ask for payment for publicising the series for them.

  5. boxontheleft

    Even if it were their “patent” or “trademark”: how low a human being do you have to be to threaten a 13 year old girl, who’s doing art in her free time? You should feel proud, that what you produce inspires young people (which happens sadly too little in todays world). Instead, I would have asked her nicely if we can put her art up on the page and show it to other fans. The thinking and ethics or todays world are quite twisted… Thanks for the post.


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