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View Full Version : Another Copyright Question, but on artwork, not writing



Cyia
02-26-2009, 05:52 AM
I've read the threads about copywrite as it applies to original manuscripts and followed the links explaining why it's best not to register a work before it's published. But what about something that's not a written work?

I'm talking about an original, kid-friendly, character. This particular character looks nothing like any current book or cartoon character that I've seen. I want to start a webpage at some point (still researching that one) and put a few illustrations on it, however I also want to make sure my little guy is protected. (I intend to use him for something at a later date.)

Are the rules different for artwork or character concepts? It's not hard to copy a photo on-line or to "print screen" to duplicate something. Should a unique (at least unique for my purposes) character be registered before it's displayed so that there's a dated certificate on file?

elae
02-26-2009, 04:33 PM
Anything you make is by default (c) you, you don't have to file anything. If you're concerned about people stealing the image itself and posting it elsewhere, I would recommend putting a watermark on the image, with (c) your name & website. Make sure it actually goes over part of the image, and isn't just in the white space around it-- otherwise people can easily erase it.

KTC
02-26-2009, 04:34 PM
And it's copyright.

veinglory
02-26-2009, 07:03 PM
A character concept wouldn't be covered under copyright which related to a specific picture only. It would probably fall more under trademarks.

maestrowork
02-26-2009, 07:49 PM
You probably want to trademark it.

Copyright only extends to the ACTUAL artwork. But not the character itself.

Cyia
02-26-2009, 08:12 PM
Water marks are useless. It doesn't matter where you put them on a photo or image they can be removed. And if it's an illustration, sticking a watermark across the picture pretty much defeats the purpose.

How do you file a trademark?


(LoL, I can't believe I did that AGAIN. write/right is something I screw up a lot thanks)

Soccer Mom
02-26-2009, 08:24 PM
Fixed the title. Carry on.

elae
02-27-2009, 01:31 AM
Water marks are useless. It doesn't matter where you put them on a photo or image they can be removed. And if it's an illustration, sticking a watermark across the picture pretty much defeats the purpose.


Watermarks are definitely better than doing nothing.

Not everyone who copies or saves files they find online does it maliciously, with the intent of stealing it, 'shopping out the watermark and claiming it as their own. Some may save it because they think it's cute, or post it on myspace to share with someone, or whatever else-- and you want your URL to be there, directing traffic back to you.

Especially if this is a kid-friendly cartoon character-- kids will save him cause they like him, and ten days later won't remember the source.

Brindle Chase
02-27-2009, 02:12 AM
The answer is... it depends. if you dont officially copyright your artwork, you are still protected as previously mentioned here. However, you are not entitled to monetary compensation for damages or earnings someone else might make off your work.

Example. You post a picture you drew on a website. I save it to my hard drive, take it to an art dealer, sell it, it suddenly becomes a printed magazine advertisement. Without an official copyright, you would be able to halt the advertisement from being used again, but you wouldnt be able to sue for damages or to confiscate earnings that others made off your work up until it was halted. You would have to sue outside of the copyright laws for civil damages leading to hardship, anger...etc... not for copyright violation. Does that make sense?

Copyright law is very convoluted... but in a nutshell... for full protection, entitlements and rights, you need an official copyright.

benbradley
02-27-2009, 02:43 AM
The answer is... it depends. if you dont officially copyright your artwork, you are still protected as previously mentioned here. However, you are not entitled to monetary compensation for damages or earnings someone else might make off your work.

Example. You post a picture you drew on a website. I save it to my hard drive, take it to an art dealer, sell it, it suddenly becomes a printed magazine advertisement. Without an official copyright, you would be able to halt the advertisement from being used again, but you wouldnt be able to sue for damages or to confiscate earnings that others made off your work up until it was halted. You would have to sue outside of the copyright laws for civil damages leading to hardship, anger...etc... not for copyright violation. Does that make sense?

Copyright law is very convoluted... but in a nutshell... for full protection, entitlements and rights, you need an official copyright.
It's not getting an "official copyright," it's REGISTERING your copyright that gives you full rights. As I recall, you can register after a violation and still sue based on the violation of a registered copyright, but read the site to get the real story.

All this is for the USA, and it's explained in plain English on this site:
http://copyright.gov
It's a remarkably easy and clear site to read, especially considering how complicated copyright laws are, and that it's a government site.

Brindle Chase
02-27-2009, 03:02 AM
It's not getting an "official copyright," it's REGISTERING your copyright that gives you full rights. As I recall, you can register after a violation and still sue based on the violation of a registered copyright, but read the site to get the real story.

All this is for the USA, and it's explained in plain English on this site:
http://copyright.gov
It's a remarkably easy and clear site to read, especially considering how complicated copyright laws are, and that it's a government site.

Right. I meant registered by "official". AS far as getting one after the fact, severak copyright discussion forums regarding art have noted that its a greater struggle to retrieve damages by registering after the fact as you might imagine, but anything is possible in a courtroom. Depends on the lawyer you can afford. If its registered before and there is no shadow of doubt to the artwork... full restitution is easy to get even without a lawyer.... after the fact... not nearly as easy. They can claim they had no idea it was copyrighted to someone else, because it wasnt registered when they checked.

benbradley
02-27-2009, 03:07 AM
Water marks are useless. It doesn't matter where you put them on a photo or image they can be removed. And if it's an illustration, sticking a watermark across the picture pretty much defeats the purpose.
I wouldn't say they're useless. having a domain name/url as a watermark will lead someone back to your site when they "innocently" save the pic and weeks or months later see the pic and wonder where they got it.

There's also steganography, essentially "invisible watermarking." It's a lot harder to remove a watermark when you don't know it's there. Such an embedded watermark is often redundantly encoded into the image, so it can be detected (with the apropriate software) even if the image is edited or resized, proving ownership in court.

I'm not familiar with any specific software that does steganography, but there should be plenty out there.

How do you file a trademark?
http://www.uspto.gov/