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Would be there any legal issues if phrases said by characters in a video game were reproduced for reuse, with or without modifications? Words and (very) short phrases are not subject to copyright so that may be OK, but I want (some) confirmation.

Example: In Hearthstone, the charcter Anduin Wrynn says this: "The Light shall bring victory!"

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US Copyright Office Circular 33 says (on page 2):

Words and short phrases, such as names, titles, and slogans, are uncopyrightable because they contain an insufficient amount of authorship. The Office will not register individual words or brief combinations of words, even if the word or short phrase is novel, distinctive, or lends itself to a play on words. Examples of names, titles, or short phrases that do not contain a sufficient amount of creativity to support a claim in copyright include

...

  • Catchwords or catchphrases
  • Mottos, slogans, or other short expressions

I strongly suspect that

The Light shall bring victory!

is short enough to be considered a catchphrase, motto or slogan. Also, if I am not mistaken, a very similar phrase occurs in the "Wheel of Time" series by Robert Jordan, and in the "Dark is Rising" sequence by Susan Cooper. Such common coin is probably not original enough for copyright protection.

Even if the phrase is considered protectable, use in a different creative work would quite likely qualify as fair use, depending on the details of how it was used.

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  • I prefer the iconic "Burn Purge Kill", but that is too Grimdark :P
    – Trish
    Commented May 15, 2022 at 7:57

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