When it comes to the type of images a writer might need for a blog or online article, the sky’s the limit. Done. Writing a blog about stopping to smell the flowers? The B(ee) roll can help there, too: Like this bowl, you’ll be glad you did.Read more
Copyright Registration in Publishing Contracts
Do Not Register Copyright Until the Work is Published (or Within a Month or So of Publication). Generally you do not register copyright in unpublished works, as the copyright protections provided by registration are designed to protect copyirghtable works at & after publication. Copyright protections attach to all qualifying works at the moment of creation, whether or not the work is registered. Works should be registered with the copyright office within three calendar months of initial publication, in order to benefit from all the legally-available protections. Also, if someone infringes the copyright on your unpublished work, you should (read: must) registerRead more
The Benefits of Copyright Registration
In the United States, copyright protection for creative works attaches to qualifying works (like novels) automatically at the time of the work’s creation. Formal registration is not required to create a copyright in an author’s work – however, registration does provide important benefits. For that reason, authors should ensure their creative works are properly copyrighted, preferably within three months after initial publication. The issue of copyright registration should be addressed in every publishing contract. Authors should know whether the contract obligates the publisher to register copyright, and if not, the author should arrange for registration of the work himself (or herself). When is a workRead more
Avoiding Copyright Infringement When Creating Images Online
Today, I’m pleased to introduce a guest post by K.M. Robinson, a professional photographer and writer I met on Twitter. We share a respect for copyright and a dedication to helping writers and other artists understand not only how to protect their rights, but how to show respect for the rights of others. And now, I’ll turn the blog over to K. M. Robinson: To learn more about image copyright, creating your own imagery, marketing, branding, and designing for authors, there is a free online course, Author Bootcamp, being offered during February 2016, that will equip authors to more effectivelyRead more
Copyright Ownership in Derivative Works
Under U.S. Copyright law, “derivative works” are creative works based on a pre-existing work (either copyrighted or in the public domain) which incorporates elements of the original along with new elements, concepts, or ideas. Sequels, unrelated works based in a pre-existing created world, film scripts, and radio plays are all examples of derivative works. The copyright owner of the original work has the exclusive, discretionary right to create or authorize derivative works. Unlicensed derivative works made during the copyright term of the original–including fanfic–are copyright infringement. Many people are surprised to learn that fanfic which simply copies the characters and situations from someone else’s copyrighted work is copyright infringement, because soRead more
Beware of Derivative “Inspiration”
Authors often ask me about the legality of using other works as “inspiration” for creative works–not just “fanfic” but also works intended to stand alone. The short answer is that while the “building blocks of fiction”–macro-level concepts like “wizards” and “talking animals” can’t be copyrighted, an author’s interpretation of those concepts, and creative worlds an author builds, are subject to copyright. Using another author’s characters, worlds, or creative flourishes without permission is often copyright infringement (if done without permission and prior to expiration of the copyright term). Use of copyrightable portions of another author’s creative works–either by copying or by using them for “closeRead more
Who Owns the Cover Art?
Today’s post takes a look at creation, use, and ownership of cover art for fiction and nonfiction works.Read more
Mandatory Marketing Contracts – Vanity by a Different Name
Recently, I’ve seen an increase in publishing contracts which look like “traditional deals” at first glance, but contain a decidedly non-traditional element: a mandatory marketing contract. Under this sort of deal, the publisher offers a royalty-based publishing contract, usually with no advance, but requires the author to sign a marketing contract also. The mandatory marketing contract requires the author to pay for expensive marketing services at the time of signing. Sometimes, the marketing contract is with the publisher itself (or its marketing arm) – and sometimes it’s with an affiliated company. Either one is sketchy. In some cases, these “mandatory marketing agreements”Read more
Who Owns a Derivative Work?
People often ask me about derivative works (and who owns them) so today I’m turning the spotlight on that topic. The United States Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. Section 101) defines a “derivative work” as: A work based upon one or more pre-existing works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a “derivative work.” InRead more
Can You Copyright a Title?
Today’s publishing legal post looks at a question I hear a lot: “Can I copyright my title?” (Short answer: no.) Copyright law doesn’t protect short phrases, slogans, names, or titles … even the unique or distinctive ones. Names, slogans and phrases are protected by trademark law – but titles don’t usually qualify for this protection (though series titles may). Copyright law doesn’t protect titles because a title is too short to be considered a “work of authorship.” Works protected by copyright require a certain amount of original authorship, which generally means more than just a few words. In some cases, titles may be protected under lawsRead more