Same Line – Same Name

I

was reading a prize-winning story and realized I’d read the same opening line written by someone else. “Sometimes the name they give you is all wrong.” When I saw the first line in a different publication, I did a search and found it in another, then another.

For whatever reason I remembered hearing a spoof song about plagiarism from the 1950s.
Tom Lehrer sang:
“… Plagiarize; Let no one else’s work evade your eyes; Remember why the good Lord made your eyes; So don’t shade your eyes; But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize; Only be sure always to call it please “research”…”
Well that thought led to a copyright search. Kawhoo! Copyright is complicated. However, several online sources say a single line cannot be copyrighted. I had no intention of calling out the writers who used the same opening line, but I feel better finding that no infringement was Committed.

In my previous blog, I talked about my starting several stories with the same first line. The line I’ve quoted above is one listed for Summer 2019 submissions to The First Line. But every story in an issue of The First Line starts with the same line. And a reputable publication wouldn’t intentionally put its contributors in jeopardy of copyright infringement.

Thus, in something I’ve just written, I explain my use of the name Buster Bunny in stories to my grandchildren.
“The Buster Bunny stories I made up, told to my grandchildren, and included in this work are mine; subsequently, I discovered at least two other fictional rabbits named Buster Bunny. One was a character in Standard Comics, and another appears in the Tiny Toon Adventures copyrighted by Warner Bros. However, just as there is more than one John Benson, there is more than one Buster Bunny.

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