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How do I get my webcomic actually copyrighted? (USA)

 
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Marscaleb



Joined: 28 Aug 2012
Posts: 258

PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 7:57 pm    Post subject: How do I get my webcomic actually copyrighted? (USA) Reply with quote

I understand that there are some basic legal rights that are automatically established without my doing anything. If someone tried to duplicate my work I have protection because I can prove I made it first.

But this isn't the same as having my comic actually copyrighted. I am curious, how would I go about doing that?
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Traegorn



Joined: 16 Feb 2010
Posts: 157

PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 7:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your work is automatically copyrighted, and no matter what you can legally protect it - suing a violator for ACTUAL damages (money lost) and force violators to cease and desist.

That said, you need to REGISTER a copyright if you ever want to sue for PUNTITIVE damages (large sums to punish violators)

That's the cliffnotes
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Marscaleb



Joined: 28 Aug 2012
Posts: 258

PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What was going through my mind the most is that I have been just pasting a copyright date on my comic pages, but I never had formerly registered any copyrights.

I'm not exactly worried that someone is going to steal my work, but if, say, in a few years my comic is quite successful I might want it formerly registered. But if I wait until then, the dates I posted on all my strips will be wrong, won't it?
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ewomack
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Joined: 05 Jun 2007
Posts: 469

PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2012 4:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The biggest question about copyright isn't whether you register your work or not or whether you can prove original authorship beyond a doubt, but whether or not you can afford to defend your copyright claims in court if it comes to that. Intellectual property cases, like most court cases, tend towards the expensive side. Though all of our work is technically "protected" under copyright, if we don't have the money to bring infringers to court to enforce these rights then this protection means very little in the end. Hopefully none of us ever have to actually worry about this at any point in the future. Putting any original work out for public consumption carries many risks, including that of being stolen. Most of us here probably agree that such risks remain worth it.
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Clint Wolf



Joined: 15 Apr 2010
Posts: 298

PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2012 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The biggest issue with registering copyrights in the U.S. is that even the Copyright office doesn't seem to know how the hell to deal with webcomics, much less any lawyers you might talk to. Some people will tell you to register as a periodical. Some people will tell you to register as artwork.

The point I gave up was when the actual U.S. Government official I talked to insisted that to be protected I would have to separately file and pay for every single, separate page of the comic that we ever posted online, regardless of the fact we also have print issues. According to him there is legislation "in the works" to figure out how to classify serialized digital media, but knowing how fast Congress works, who knows when that'll happen.

In the meantime, even if he's wrong, the air of uncertainty is such that the only real reason to formally file copyright (better standing in court) is completely undercut. I'm not paying the money and wasting the time involved when there's every chance that if something ever did go before a judge, I'll just be informed I filed incorrectly and have to fall back on the default rights I enjoyed in the first place.
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UncleRobot



Joined: 30 Apr 2012
Posts: 29

PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 6:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

eco.copyright.gov is where you want to go if you want to do it up right.



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AndToBeLoved



Joined: 17 Mar 2011
Posts: 116

PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 6:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I used to be really paranoid about this kind of thing, but as others have stated, the most important thing is that you can prove authorship. It's not usually worth the time, money, and stress involved in copyrighting every single thing, especially for webcomics. Clint Wolf makes an excellent point in that the copyright office doesn't know how to handle these things.

It's probably more important that, if (IF) your comic is ever a huge success, you trademark the name. But even then, for indie and webcomics, I don't feel it's worth it. And taking a perpetrator to court is another huge hassle in and of itself that could cost you a lot more than its worth, even if you win. The truth is, if you're actually a good writer, and if someone steals your idea and gets away with it, you should have two dozen even better ideas already floating around in your head to replace that stolen one. It's harsh, and totally unfair if someone steals your idea, but hey, screw em! Do something even better! Hopefully it never comes to that, though. I've had work more or less stolen, in a manner of speaking, and it sucked and I was very angry about it, but now I just look back at it as a learning experience and since then I have come up with an uncountable list of even better ideas and concepts (wow, I hope that doesn't sound conceited...).

Anyways, life is too short to be worrying about someone stealing your idea.

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