Huldra Forsvant (Theodor Kittelsen)

Huldra Forsvant (Theodor Kittelsen)
Huldra Forsvant (Theodor Kittelsen)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Copyright B. McLaughlin 2011

Does anybody know anything about copyrighting something?

Say I wanted to use a certain name for something, and didn't want anyone to sue me, or nick the same name for something else, do you know whether it would be expensive or how you go about it?


Laetitia :-) said...

You don't have to register your work with any organisation - anything that you produce belongs to you and you have exclusive rights to it unless you sign away those rights e.g. (a) you're doing it for your employer or other client or you're using their equipment to produce it so they have a stake in it that may completely negate your stake or (b) you allow others to use your work through some form of licensing.

With (a) a company would own the copyright on a report written for a client until that client pays for that work, at which time most would say that the client owns the copyright. With (b) you can license others to use your work with or without credit simply by adding a note to it e.g. "Derivations of this work may be made by others without payment provided this notice is included with the derivative work". You may like to check out this site:

To help protect yourself, date your work as that shows priority. And, of course, if you don't protect your interests (through such things as suing for copyright infringement), it is taken to mean that you don't care. This is why the initial damages for use of "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree" in "Land Down Under" were reduced - the copyright holders of Kookaburra hadn't protected their interest for decades and probably wouldn't have if it hadn't been brought to light by Spicks 'n' Specks.

Jessica said...

My understanding is copyright automatically belongs to the person who makes it. You just have to be able to prove you made it if you want to sue someone. Putting a copyright notice on something like a song is a formal reminder to people not to steal it. If there is no c notice, they still aren't allowed to start making copies and selling it themselves for their own profit.

Laetitia :-) said...

Oh, and speaking of music, publishers of sheet music like to write things like "photocopying is illegal" at the bottom of the page. This isn't strictly true - one may photocopy for the purposes of personal private study e.g. I'm allowed to photocopy a piece I'm learning to play (I do this so I can scribble on the copy rather than the original) but I'm not then allowed to pass on the original to someone else.

You're allowed to photocopy up to 1 chapter or 10% (I think whichever is less) of a textbook for study purposes. And you can have one copy of a disk (e.g. music, video) as a back-up provided you still have the original in your possession (so you can't rip a CD and then give the original to a friend to keep).

Note that these allowances apply in Australia and other countries' laws vary. In the USA you can parody anything without paying for it provided it's a parody (think of a lot 'Weird' Al Yankovic's songs) and not a derivative work. 'Weird' Al likes to get the blessing of the original artist but this isn't legally necessary.

Ben McLaughlin said...

Thanks a lot for all the info. I guess what I want to do is more to do with patenting a name for an 'artistic endevour'. I want this name for my project and I don't to lose it.

In the end I want to copyright the actual project itself, but what I'm mainly concerned with is securing the name.

Laetitia :-) said...

Ben - that sounds like a trademark that you're after. Try here:

Ben McLaughlin said...

Thanks, I'll have a good read of that.

Amy said...

Second Laetitia - that's trademarking, not copyright.

If you are looking at it business wise you will have to look into registering as a business name as well as a trademark (business names I believe are around $100 a year).