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Copyright advice please.

I've never made a post on LJ before so please forgive me if my post is messy.

A little background; I have a project I've been working on for a very long time, and I care for deeply.
But I have not posted any of it online because I wanted to get it copyrighted first. Actual registered copyright with the paperwork and everything. I want more legal standing if someone tried to profit off of it.

The problem is I'm not sure how to do so since I want to basically copyright the fictional setting I've created.
I do plan to eventually do some comics (or graphic novels) based on it but they will have nothing in common with each other.
The setting, culture, worlds and most importantly the 1000+ monsters and characters are what I want to protect.

How does one copyright something like this? Since it's not something like an image or a novel.
Something that will continuously grow and take different forms?
Does it need a particular type of copyright or documentation?

Sorry if my post is confusing at all it's hard putting this into words :/

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( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
(no subject) - fenris_lorsrai - May. 26th, 2014 03:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
tealmoonxiv
May. 27th, 2014 12:29 am (UTC)
Trademark kinda sounds like it but I don't think I could deal with that much enforcing. :/

I guess I'm just paranoia about someone swiping my idea and somehow winning and taking it. :/

Copyright would probably be sufficient but I'll do more research into both to see what's best.
kattotang
May. 28th, 2014 12:39 am (UTC)
It should also be pointed out to you that trademarks are the only way to actually "protect" characters, because characters can *not* be copyrighted. And most companies/people don't trademark all the characters, instead focusing on the most well-known ones. For instance, Pikachu is trademarked, but other, less popular Pokemon wouldn't be.

There's also the instance where things can't be trademarked, usually for everyday words/names. Like, for instance, Apple can't trademark the word "apple". They can trademark their logo and the full name of "Apple Incorporated", but they can't lay claim to just the word "apple" because common language words like that can't be owned. (Didn't stop them from trying though...seriously, Apple has tried to trademark the word "startup" and patent the shape of a rectangle with rounded corners.)
tealmoonxiv
May. 28th, 2014 05:47 am (UTC)
Apple is indeed crazy with it's trademark attempts.

I'm just worried my designs would be stolen for things like virtual pet sites. :/

Or some company would try to weasel their way into taking over my creatures. :I
funkicarus
May. 26th, 2014 04:00 pm (UTC)
i was always told to date things you want copywritten, though i was also told that the best way to prove a date is to mail yourself something with your material on it and just.....not open the mail. that way the sealed postmarked envelope will act as proof of the date you concieved of the whatever-it-is

since you don't actually have a body of work, just a bunch of concepts, i'd suggest sort of laying out a sort of universe bible or a lot of notes? like, just pages and pages of concepts. then print & mail them to yourself.

though i'd be careful exactly what you're calling copywritten work. like if you create a race of cat-people? you can't copywrite that. there's so goddamn many anthro cat people aliens dating from now back to the dawn of freaking time.

however if you create a race of cat people called the felius, well, maybe there's only 10 or 15 of those. but it's still too many to walk into a court with someone you suspect of ripping you off and prove they're ripping YOU off.

create a race of cat people called the felius who have an inborn species-wide obsession with collecting silly straws, and you've got yourself something defensable. you'll know right away if someone is ripping you off with their silly-straw-loving cat-people named the felius, and a court will probably agree.
tealmoonxiv
May. 27th, 2014 12:13 am (UTC)
I heard that the mailing envelope thing doesn't stand up in court. :/

The monsters are more of a pokemon/digimon concept than a species of cat people. Maybe that would make it easy if they were all under one universal name? (Much like pokemon/digimon)

I do have art for the majority of them (though a lot need to be redesigned). I personally wouldn't mind making a huge ass encyclopedia of them. :/

funkicarus
May. 27th, 2014 12:20 am (UTC)
in that case i'd still make like a character bible or something and then take it to a lawyer or someone who can advise you on how to effectively prove the date of the contents
tealmoonxiv
May. 27th, 2014 12:30 am (UTC)
That'd probably be for the best. :I
(Deleted comment)
tealmoonxiv
May. 27th, 2014 12:14 am (UTC)
That would probably be best, I have a hard time with legal jargon anyway. :/
greenreaper
May. 26th, 2014 07:11 pm (UTC)
Copyright is the correct tool, at least for part of what you want. But copyright (registered or otherwise) works only once you have secured it in a tangible medium - i.e. you have to actually have written out your ideas. For example, if you want to prevent someone writing their own story about a mystical land with fantastic beasts, you have to have written your own story about them first (or, say, a detailed encyclopedia article). You cannot claim protection on a mere idea, in your head.

You say you plan to create a set of works. As you write each work, the matter within it will become protected. Things that you haven't mentioned yet won't be. (That's only fair, because how could someone have copied you if they didn't know about it to start with?) You can send each written work off to the Copyright Office if you want and feel safer about it, but really it's writing it down that's the basis of copyright protection - just as the primary basis of trademark protection is your own use of that mark.

fenris_lorsrai is right that trademark is also something to consider; at least once you have fixed the name of your setting and plan to release works featuring it within the next six months. That's the difference between someone ripping off your written-down ideas, and someone trying to impersonate your brand. A trademark is more important once you get big, because it's only then that people will use or buy products and services based on the name of their setting.

Trademark won't protect you against someone writing the same story with different names for everything - but you might be able to claim copyright infringement, if the reuse is sufficiently detailed.

Also, a general caution: while it's important to protect yourself, if you spend more time worrying about that than developing your work, it's not a profitable use of your time. Most people think their ideas are worth more than they are. The truth is, everyone has ideas - often, quite similar ones - it's the execution that matters. If you never get around to executing, or delay doing so out of fear that your ideas will be stolen, nobody will make any profit, least of all you.

Edited at 2014-05-26 07:19 pm (UTC)
tealmoonxiv
May. 27th, 2014 12:40 am (UTC)
I know that it has to be tangible, just what sort of tangible is confusing to me. (Though it's looking like an encyclopedia/world bible might be a good idea).

I'm going to look into trademark for the brand, though I'll be doing more research first.

I'm probably getting paranoid over nothing, I just want to give it a little bit more protection. :/

greenreaper
May. 27th, 2014 01:35 am (UTC)
It's understandable - it's important to you, so you want it protected!

Trademarks are not inexpensive compared to copyright registration - though most companies consider them relatively cheap - and it relies on you having used the mark (or being about to), so if you decide to get one, you'll probably want to file around when you release your first work. You can do it directly for ~$275 last I checked.

Putting it down in any fixed medium is, in theory, sufficient. The trick is proving it. Publication tends to be a good way, but registration with the copyright office is the gold standard. You can register multiple unpublished works at the same time, in case you've got one thing ready to go but others need some work. It's $35 and then you've got it on record as yours.
tealmoonxiv
May. 27th, 2014 02:36 am (UTC)
I'll have to save up for a trademark :/

I'll definitely getting it registered though. :3
breakspire
May. 27th, 2014 06:07 am (UTC)
1. assemble pile of money
2. hire a lawyer

some things are really best when handled by professionals. personally I wouldn't rely on any legal advice given in a setting like this. find a lawyer that will give you a free consult and go from there
tealmoonxiv
May. 27th, 2014 06:22 am (UTC)
I'm going to, though having a little direction in what I'm looking for helps. :/
breakspire
May. 27th, 2014 07:54 am (UTC)
if you find a lawyer specializing in IP (intellectual property) and explain the situation, they'll be able to let you know what you need/can get. you can approach them as a legal noob, it's their job to guide you through it

http://www.isfanficlegal.com/ is run by some lawyers and they answer questions about this sort of thing, if you're looking to get your head around legal stuff it may be worth poking through for similar questions or even asking them about your situation

also, take a look at the government websites (I'm assuming you're in the US? other countries have their own systems)

http://www.copyright.gov/

http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/

edit: oops meant to reply to your comment.

Edited at 2014-05-27 07:55 am (UTC)
tealmoonxiv
May. 28th, 2014 05:44 am (UTC)
Yup US. I've been checking those sites, the jargon is confusing to me though. :P

I'll get a lawyer for sure though. Eventually.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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