Fight for your right...copyright, that is..

General Discussion
Post Reply
User avatar
Gunwhale
Posts: 153
Joined: Fri Aug 18, 2006 10:38 am
Location: Downriver Detroit, Michigan
Contact:

Fight for your right...copyright, that is..

Post by Gunwhale » Sun Aug 27, 2006 5:06 pm

Lately, I've been thinking about copyrighting a character and name that I've been working on for a while now. I'm reading up on copyright procedures and registration at the US Copyright Office website, but I just wanted to hear from Kazu, the Flight contributors or just anybody who has copyrighted their stuff.

What has been your experience with it? How far along did you decide to copyright--beginning stages of development, or just before publication? Has anyone had any problems or infringements or anything?

I think this would be a good topic to get feedback on for all of us creators who are going to deal with this eventually.
Image Image

User avatar
Kazu
Site Admin
Posts: 9337
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2003 8:59 pm
Location: Seattle, WA
Contact:

Post by Kazu » Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:51 pm

You are copyright-protected the moment you create the work, and it's actually very, very difficult for someone to infringe on your copyright. However, before I was published, I used to mail myself packages of my own work to myself and store them away somewhere. Sending material to the Copyright office is basically the same thing, only they'll store it somewhere for a fee. Once I developed a readership with my website and had the material printed in magazines and books, I haven't worried much about copyright protection.

It's important to note, however, that when I stopped worrying about this stuff (before getting published), my work got better. My worries about protecting my copyright was more indicative about my fears of "not making it" than it was about actual copyright protection. What I decided to do was to put more emphasis on my skills and not on concepts, so I started taking very tried-and-true genre concepts and started making them my own. Among my projects, there is nothing I am working on today that hasn't been done before in concept, but they just haven't yet been done by me. Alleviating your fears is imperative for creating good, confident work, so I found that by developing this work method, I worry less.

To answer your questions:

How far along did you decide to copyright--beginning stages of development, or just before publication?

Neither.

Has anyone had any problems or infringements or anything?

Personally, not yet. Or at least not that I know of. I've seen people steal my website template or use Copper strips to decorate their websites, but there has yet to be a case where I would be prompted to take any action.
Image
Image

User avatar
Michel Gagne
Posts: 600
Joined: Tue May 11, 2004 11:19 am
Contact:

Post by Michel Gagne » Mon Aug 28, 2006 3:52 pm

Yeah, I never bother with that stuff either. My wife usually sends a copy of my published books to the copyright office. If I go pitch an original idea to a studio, I usually register it with the "writer guild of America" before doing the pitches, but that's about it.

People have used my artwork without permission before (there's even a book in Russia where my design was used for the cover without my consent or credit) but frankly, I don't really care. The more exposure, the better as far as I'm concerned. :D
Image

User avatar
Gunwhale
Posts: 153
Joined: Fri Aug 18, 2006 10:38 am
Location: Downriver Detroit, Michigan
Contact:

Post by Gunwhale » Tue Aug 29, 2006 12:39 am

Kazu, Michel, thanks for answering.
Focusing on improving skill rather than innovating concepts makes a lot more sense, Kazu.
My worries about protecting my copyright was more indicative about my fears of "not making it" than it was about actual copyright protection
That pretty much sums up my motive for looking into the Copyright Office. I guess I was just worried that, I have an idea that I-- along with other people I've shown it to--think is worth developing, and then possibly years down the road, I'd find out someone else had already done it. But you've given me better perspective on it.
Thanks! :D

By the way, how's the coloring going on Amulet, Kazu?

I finished my first colored strip a couple of weeks ago, and it was my first time using a Wacom tablet for serious, as well as Photoshop channels and whatnot.
Image Image

User avatar
jdalton
Posts: 698
Joined: Wed Aug 24, 2005 4:06 pm
Location: 1 hr east of Vancouver (currently)
Contact:

Post by jdalton » Tue Aug 29, 2006 7:12 pm

I've registered copyright with a couple of things just before I sent them to publishers. Maybe I'm just paranoid? Comics have got to be just about the hardest thing to infringe copyright on though, I think. So much of the process is just the act of cranking out those pages- there are no short-cuts when it comes to drawing pages! And even if someone did want to steal my ideas and draw their own comic based on them- it won't look like my drawings. Anyone talented enough to copy someone else's style exactly would find it much easier to work in their own style of drawing. And it's not like you could get print-quality images by downloading jpegs off my site.
Jonathon Dalton
Image Image

User avatar
Azad
Posts: 315
Joined: Mon Jul 26, 2004 8:42 pm
Location: montreal
Contact:

Post by Azad » Tue Aug 29, 2006 8:06 pm

ive heard mailing yourself is an urban legend. doest hold up in court
Friend to all small creatures everywhere (felines need not apply)

http://www.guerrilla-comics.com
http://www.livejournal.com/users/cubicz

User avatar
Mac McCool
Posts: 201
Joined: Thu Aug 12, 2004 8:15 am
Location: L.A., CA, U.S.A.
Contact:

Post by Mac McCool » Tue Aug 29, 2006 9:18 pm

Azad wrote:ive heard mailing yourself is an urban legend. doest hold up in court
I heard it too from attorney Michael Lovitz at his Comic-Con presentations (Comic Book Law School), which are great to learn more about these topics.

User avatar
jshamblin
Posts: 351
Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2006 6:35 am
Location: Naptancia
Contact:

Post by jshamblin » Thu Aug 31, 2006 7:42 am

Azad wrote:ive heard mailing yourself is an urban legend. doest hold up in court
In many cases it's true and it's for good reason. It's because you're an artist and postmarks are easily doctored. A judge has no way of knowing for sure who is being honest. I've also heard stories of people sending themselves empty envelopes registered mail and who knows how many other creative ways people can think of to cheat one another.

Best advise, don't worry about copyrights. Do your best work and publish it online. There's are ways for tracking your work once it's online to prove when you created it and in some cases, who has seen it. Besides, stress kills creativity. Don't put yourself through it.
Image

rajesh
Posts: 76
Joined: Sat Feb 18, 2006 12:59 am

Post by rajesh » Thu Aug 31, 2006 4:02 pm

Copyrights do more than just protect the idea or prevent others from trying to ape your style (which cannot be copyrighted anyway).

And registering the copyright is not only about preventing others from claiming your work as their own.

Sometimes, people just take copies of sketches, illos, or comics by hot artists, self-publish a book, and sell them on eBay, raking in millions.





Okay, I don't know about raking in millions or even several thousands.

But I imagine it's enough to make them keep doing it.

Also, some clients will seek out cheaper freelance artists and instruct them to outright copy or manipulate another's work.

Usually though, the work being copied is work-for-hire and the headache of the owner not the artist.

Registering with the copyright office ensures your claim will be supported in court should you need to take action (mailing to yourself doesn't hold up in the US).

Of course, the costs usually outweigh the benefits unless the violator's sales are more than it would cost to find and sue him.

As others have mentioned, its very rare. I suspect it has more to do with the medium, artists, and culture. Music and film is a whole other ballgame.

To register or not to register is also not that big of a deal because you still have some time (1 year I believe) to register it after you discover a violation you may want to prosecute.

User avatar
JoePotato
Posts: 26
Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2005 8:38 am
Location: Elk Grove
Contact:

Post by JoePotato » Sun Sep 10, 2006 2:29 pm

Yeah,
We could all spend a lot of time worrying about copyrights. But I like to remember that mimicry is the best form of flattery. Meaning - if your stuff is worth others trying to copy it, it's probably good and will gain an audience of its own if you continue to produce it.

The one thing that I would add is that an official government copyright will make your work property of your estate for 50 years after your death; rather than going straight to public domain. This way your family, spouse or whoever you will your earthly life away too can reap the benefits of your work.

But, like life insurance and retirement, many of us are just trying to start a career in this field rather than think about being old or dead. So I agree with the notion of being a heart and soul creator and not worrying about the copy-cats.
Image

User avatar
jdalton
Posts: 698
Joined: Wed Aug 24, 2005 4:06 pm
Location: 1 hr east of Vancouver (currently)
Contact:

Post by jdalton » Sun Sep 10, 2006 7:23 pm

JoePotato wrote: The one thing that I would add is that an official government copyright will make your work property of your estate for 50 years after your death; rather than going straight to public domain.
No it's up to 90-something years now, isn't it? When I write my will (when I need a will), I'm going to stipulate that I want all my copyrights to be treated as public domain 50 years after I die. That's the way it should be.
Jonathon Dalton
Image Image

User avatar
Rem
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Sep 18, 2006 8:47 pm
Location: Under a Gilded Sky
Contact:

Post by Rem » Tue Sep 19, 2006 9:56 pm

JDalton- Truly! I've been studying up on copyright laws off and on for a year or so now (since the first essay I had to do on it) and the extensions granted lately are turns for the worst, in my opinion. I personally wouldn't care if the copyright on my own things ended 20 years afterwards, if it helped someone else in their creative endevors. Of course, I'm not banking on anything of mine ever being my decendents main source of income (as it shouldn't anyway). ^_^
Image

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 20 guests