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Nancy Delain
Nancy Delain, Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 198
Experience:  IP attorney; registered patent attorney
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How do I copyright my original work such as a cartoon

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How do I copyright my original work such as a cartoon character? Thanks.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
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Columbus, Ohio
Already Tried:
Nothing but what I've heard from other people.
Thank you for contacting Just Answer. I look forward to assisting you.

While we write back and forth, please keep in mind that I do not know what you already know or don't know, or with what you need help, unless you tell me.

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By using this forum and clicking ACCEPT, you expressly acknowledge that any information I may give in response to your question in this forum does not constitute legal advice; there is no attorney-client relationship between us; and all questions and answers are visible to the whole world, including your opponent, and any information provided is therefore not confidential. Because of the public nature of this forum, by posting anything here you waive irrevocably any and all claim to confidentiality or privilege as to the content posted. Please post only that information that you are willing for your opponent to see and use against you if this matter goes to court. Any money you may give me in response to this posting (which may include both your agreed-on sum and any bonus payment) is a gift of gratitude, and is not intended as, nor should it be construed as, attorney's fees. For more information about your matter, you should consult with an attorney of your choice in a traditional face-to-face or telephonic meeting.

You're very smart to register your work of authorship. While copyright attaches to a work of authorship at the moment that the work is affixed into a tangible medium, full protection of the work is gotten only through registration. Indeed, the federal trial courts, which have exclusive jurisdiction over copyright matters, don't even accept copyright infringement cases where the copyright is not registered.

To register a work of authorship under the US copyright laws (Title 17 of the US Code), go to www.copyright.gov . Click on the link that says HOW TO REGISTER A WORK (it's in the text field of the webpage). This will bring you to a page with links to both Form eCO (their current handy-dandy all-purpose registration form which you will have to fill out) and links to full instructions as to how to upload (or mail) your application. If you follow those instructions to the letter, your work will be submitted properly to the US Copyright Office. You can also get to this webpage at http://www.copyright.gov/register/ but the info on the main page of the Copyright Office is really excellent; I recommend spending some time browsing through it.

The filing fee for a copyright registration is, as I write this, a maximum of $45.00 in the US. This fee is payable online by credit card if you file electronically (the fee, as I write this, is $35 if you file electronically); if you file on paper, you will have to enclose a check or money order with your filing. Copyright Office filing fees are subject to change, but the current fees are posted at their site.

If a work of authorship is published, the US Copyright Office requires two copies of the work to be filed with the application for registration; if the work is unpublished, the author need include only one copy.

The intellectual property offices of the US federal government charge less for electronic filing of works than they do for paper filing of works. While the US Patent & Trademark Office has this e-filing bit down pretty well at this point, the Copyright Office does not. It is probably not worth your while to file electronically for copyright protection at this point (let them work out the bugs, and those bugs are multitudinous); the headache I get every time I try to e-file a copyright registration is not worth the minimal savings in filing fees.

There are complications that can occur in the registration of any work of authorship that would require the assistance of an attorney who practices copyright law. Thus, if you receive any communication back from the Copyright Office other than a Certificate of Registration, you should immediately contact an intellectual property attorney (not a general-practice or business attorney). Don't do this through this forum; you will need to actually hire an attorney at that point.

Copyright protection is territorially based; the United States Copyright Office cannot grant copyright in Canada, or Mexico, or England, or China, or any other country; they can only grant the bundle of rights that comprise copyright in the USA. To obtain foreign registration, you would have to submit the work to the copyright authorities in each and every country where you want to register. There are, however, treaties in place that give a US copyright registration some degree of recognition in many other countries (and those other countries' copyright registration some degree of recognition in the US).

THE INFORMATION PRESENTED HERE IS GENERAL IN NATURE AND IS NOT INTENDED, NOR SHOULD IT BE CONSTRUED, AS LEGAL ADVICE. THIS POSTING DOES NOT CREATE ANY ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN US. ANY MONEY PAID IN RESPONSE TO THIS ANSWER IS A GIFT OF GRATITUDE AND IS NOT, NOR SHOULD IT BE CONSTRUED AS, AN ATTORNEY'S FEE. FOR SPECIFIC ADVICE ABOUT YOUR PARTICULAR SITUATION, CONSULT YOUR ATTORNEY.
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