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  1. #1
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    Feb 2004
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    Northern NJ
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    An Important Question about Copywriting :)

    Hey all,

    A year ago, I registered a VERY Early, and Crude look of 5 characters I created for a potential comic book. I now have completed looks down for each of the five characters, and color schemes, and I would like to register it again, but a question.

    If I send it in to the copyright.gov site, what exactly is being copywrited? The title of the series, the characters names, or just the drawing and the look of the characters themselves? I want to make sure I have my bases covered before I pitch this idea to any studio.....

    Thanks!
    Neil

    P.S. You can see the still very crude, but improved drawings at http://www.twelveoclock.net Opinions page. I also have the description of the first 6 episodes up as well...
    Check out Twelveoclock.net. And please check out our forums for fun Animation/Technology talk

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
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    NYC
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    Re: An Important Question about Copywriting :)

    Originally posted by Neil V
    The title of the series, the characters names, or just the drawing and the look of the characters themselves?
    Titles aren't protected by copyright. Generally, the characters' names, appearance, and character traits can be. So your registration documents should include as complete a description of your characters as possible.

    Here's a very informative article on IP protection as it applies to graphic characters, including discussions of the differences between copyright and trademark protection in these cases:
    http://www.publaw.com/graphical.html

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
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    1,145

    Re: Re: An Important Question about Copywriting :)

    Originally posted by JayC
    Titles aren't protected by copyright. Generally, the characters' names, appearance, and character traits can be. So your registration documents should include as complete a description of your characters as possible.

    Here's a very informative article on IP protection as it applies to graphic characters, including discussions of the differences between copyright and trademark protection in these cases:
    http://www.publaw.com/graphical.html
    Wouldn't the character's names need to be trademarked, and not copyrighted?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Northern NJ
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    Generally, the characters' names, appearance, and character traits can be.>>>

    This is exactly what I want to do. I mostly want to copywrite the traits and appearance. The form that I used was, http://www.copyright.gov/forms/formvai.pdf. But this only copyrighted the image that I sent in. Don't know if it did all the stuff mentioend above. I'd also like to trade mark the title and idea behind the series if possible.

    Any help indirecting me to that section of government will be most appreciated...
    Check out Twelveoclock.net. And please check out our forums for fun Animation/Technology talk

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Location
    NYC
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    Originally posted by Neil V
    This is exactly what I want to do. I mostly want to copywrite the traits and appearance. The form that I used was, http://www.copyright.gov/forms/formvai.pdf. But this only copyrighted the image that I sent in. Don't know if it did all the stuff mentioend above.
    No, because that kind of protection isn't that easy, and will only evolve as the characters are used in ongoing copyright-protected works. A point comes where the character can be considered to be protected outside the context of the works in which it appears, as long as the character is unique enough and well-delineated enough to be seen essentially as being a story or work itself, outside of "the story being told."

    Unfortunately this area of copyright protection isn't very clear, and there are probably as many cases on record of a character not having been found, by the courts, as being protected as there are the other way around. For the most part the kinds of protection your talking about are not laid out specifically in copyright law, they're based in case law and precedent.

    At this stage, your best protection will probably come by backing your registered rights to the characters' images with a strong nondisclosure/noncompetition agreement to be executing between you and anyone you work together with.

    I'd also like to trade mark the title and idea behind the series if possible.
    You can't actually attain trademark protection until a mark is used commercially... and trademark protection is only for marks used to identify a product or service. The idea behind the series can neither be trademarked nor copyrighted. Copyright in essense doesn't protect an idea, it protects the expression of an idea.

    There's also protection available for your characters from the area of law comprised of unfair competition statutes. While not required, your registration of copyright and any trademarks would be beneficial if you were to end up fighting infringement on the basis of "unfair competition."

    Again, the article I linked to earlier is worth reading.
    Specializing in SEO and PPC management.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Location
    NYC
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    Re: Re: Re: An Important Question about Copywriting :)

    Originally posted by varg
    Wouldn't the character's names need to be trademarked, and not copyrighted?
    Trademark protection, again, is only for marks used in the identification of a product or service. It's quite possible that one or more of his character's names would qualify for that protection (especially if he starts selling t-shirts or something bearing their likeness), but it's not that case that every cartoon character's name can be protected as a trademark.

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