English Journal Article

Emoji as Language and Their Place Outside American Copyright Law

JIPEL Vol. 5 - No. 2 |


As emoji become more ubiquitous in society, users are learning to express themselves through these symbols. Copyright protection of emoji would hamper this growing area of free expression. This note argues that, given the ways in which emoji are used in American culture, they should not receive copyright protection, in order to encourage the use of emoji as an “accessory” to language. Emoji do not readily fit under U.S. copyright protection and their maintenance would be best left to private organizations. This structure would allow people to use emoji freely, in order to develop common meanings for symbols among emoji users and thereby maximize their communicative and expressive functions.