Registratrion/Trademark/Copywrite Questions...

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by DeathStar1, Mar 9, 2004.

  1. DeathStar1

    DeathStar1 Producer

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    I have a comic strip that I've put on the back burner for the last ten years, and now I'm starting to step up the gun a bit in getting it operational. I've reworked the characters, given them stable names, jobs, and places to live, etc.

    In order to ship it around to folks for possible publication, how would I have to register it with the government? Do I have to copyright the idea of the strip? Or do I have to copyright every character look and character name? This is something I obviously don't know much about, and I want to get it right before I try to sell stuff with the characters on it [​IMG]. Let alone have anyone see any of the strips...

    Thanks [​IMG].
     
  2. Bill Will

    Bill Will Screenwriter

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    I have a freind who used to submit TV Scripts, Magazine Articles & etc and what he used to do was make 3 copies. One he would save, the second he would send in & the third & Original Copy he would mail to himself using the United States Post Office. When he got the Original Copy back in the mail he would SAVE IT UNOPENED. That way he figured if anyone tried to steal his material he would just march off to a lawyer & present him with the UNOPENED ORGINAL MATERIAL with the DATED POSTMARK from the UNITED STATES POST OFFICE to go after who ever stole his material. Don't know if it would ever hold up or not? but it sure sounds like it would as long as you could prove that it had not been opened. For extra protection you might also want to have the material itself Dated & Notorized before you sent it to yourself. But if I was you just to be safe I would check with a lawyer on the cheapest & safest way to do it & I don't think they would charge you very much either. Remember, a hundred dollars now could mean losing thousands of dollars later & I would also check with a lawyer on Copyrights & etc because they can tell you how much that will cost & I would think without charging you for the info either. Good Luck with you strip & I hope it works out well for you.
     
  3. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    1) I am not a lawyer, so take this all with the usual grain of salt.

    2) Despite not being a lawyer I have had ocassion to look into copyright law for my own purposes, and used to fix the computers at a law firm that had a staff of intellectual property specialists, and I kept my ears open. [​IMG]

    Copyright begins as soon as the protected work exists in tangible form. If you've drawn your comic strip, even on the back of a napkin, you already hold the copyright to it. Registering a work with the Copyright Office (which I believe is part of the Library of Congress) does not confer copyright, it merely establishes when a work was created. So some if some unscrupulous syndicator tried to claim your idea as its own and assign it to some other writer and/or artist, you would have some way to prove that you were already working on it before their strip was created.

    The actual images of individual characters and the like are more often trademarked than copyrighted (especially important for subsidiary ventures like merchandising.) Unlike copyright, trademarks do not expire after a set time.

    While you don't want to get ripped off, you also shouldn't go into the whole experience expecting that everyone you deal with is dying to steal your ideas. There are far more comic strip ideas floating around out there than there are slots in the every-shrinking newspaper market to hold them. It simply isn't worth the risk for a syndicator to steal your idea - chances are it would be cheaper, easier and better in the long-run to buy it from you under the terms of a contract that favors them outrageously. And which you'll sign because it is the only way you'll ever get your strip into print. [​IMG] That's how they'll rip you off, by screwing you out of merchandising money and the like, not by stealing your strip outright. Most syndicates don't have "house writers" or "house artists" sitting around ready to produce a strip based on someone else's work, anymore than publishers have staff writers to produce novels based on ideas submitted by novices. The syndicate makes money by placing strips with newspapers, and by sharing in the ancillary revenue, not by producing the strips, just as publishers make money by selling books, not writing them.

    As long as you're only sending your stuff to reputable syndicates and other markets, chances are no one is going to try to steal your strip outright. The way to find out which markets are reputable is to check the library or bookstore for books on the current comic strip market. There are similar books for novels, short stories, non-fiction and film scripts. They give names, addresses and phone numbers for agents, publishers, syndicates, studios, etc., submission requirements, suggested formats, even pay rates where applicable. I'm sure there is at least one book along these lines for prospective comic strip folks, probably more like three or four.

    Good luck,

    Joe
     
  4. BrianB

    BrianB Producer

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    It doesn't.
     
  5. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    Well, before you spend money on a lawyer, check this link and this one for information (including registration fees) straight from the Copyright Office itself. Amazing what a Google search on "copyright" and "registration" will turn up. [​IMG]

    Regards,

    Joe
     
  6. Thomas Newton

    Thomas Newton Screenwriter

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    You can't copyright an idea. You can copyright works that contain creative expressions. Registration is optional, but you must register if you want to have the option of collecting punitive damages from commercial infringers.
     
  7. DeathStar1

    DeathStar1 Producer

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    Ok. Thanks to the links provided, I think I have the right form I need. In this case, http://www.copyright.gov/forms/formvai.pdf . Now I just need to take the time to read it all through. Judging from what I've read, I need to send a drawing in of all three main characters, and a title of the strip itself... Easy enough to whip up [​IMG].
     
  8. DeathStar1

    DeathStar1 Producer

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    Now trhat I've got the proper form for my strip, I just need the proper form for my invention, so I can post an animation of it that I just completed and get reviews on it from fellow HTF posters [​IMG].
     
  9. DeathStar1

    DeathStar1 Producer

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    I'm in the process of developing a new comic book idea. I have the main 5 characters created, first 7 issues planned out, and am working on the script for the first issue. I'm also working on temp character designs for the characters as well.

    However, I want to get opinions on what I have so far, since it may be a while before an actual issue is in anyones hands( I.e. need an artist who likes the idea enough to work for free [​IMG] ). Is it a wise idea to post plans for a project I want to market that isn't copywrited, or am I protected the instant I have something hard copy to produce?
     
  10. Dan Rudolph

    Dan Rudolph Producer

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    This really isn't the place to ask.
     
  11. Philip Klein

    Philip Klein Stunt Coordinator

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    you need to mail it to yourself
    and don't open it
     
  12. DeathStar1

    DeathStar1 Producer

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    wHOOPs... Put it in the wrong forum. This is supposed to go in the After Hours lounge. Sorry about that [​IMG].
     
  13. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    You own the copyright the minute you create something.

    The difficulty comes in trying to prove that you created it, and in defending that right should you need to. Filing a notice with the copyright board gives you added documentation should you need to defend your rights in court, but no amount of documentation or fee paying is going to stop someone from stealing your idea. If you hope to protect your work, it is then up to you to sue the infringer, using as much documentation as you can find to support your claim that you created the work. Realisticaly, unless there are very large sums involved, it is not worth the time or effort to pursue infringers. I speak from experience.

    I would take some steps to establish the creation date, but realise that most of the methods described on the net for doing so either won't or may not stand up in court, such as mailing a copy to yourself, etc.
     
  14. BrianB

    BrianB Producer

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    That doesn't prove a thing & isn't legally valid.
     
  15. JackKay

    JackKay Second Unit

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    Don't do it!
     
  16. Kyle McKnight

    Kyle McKnight Cinematographer

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  17. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    [​IMG]

    Neil V, strikes again.
     
  18. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    Threads are now merged.

    M.
     
  19. Don Black

    Don Black Screenwriter

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    The mailing the envelope to yourself thing can hold up in court.
     
  20. BrianB

    BrianB Producer

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    Every piece of advice I've had about software designs, game content etc has said it won't - you simply cannot prove that the envelope hasn't been tampered with & it doesn't prove that you created the work.

    It may have held up in the past, but it doesn't seem to be the best thing to rely on in this day & age.
     

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