Copyright Office
Posted: Tuesday, October 08, 2019 6:15:30 PM
Do most designers send all of their designs to the Copyright Office?
Posted: Tuesday, October 08, 2019 6:44:05 PM
Hi Sharon,

I can only speak for myself as an artist. I don't bother on my original artwork because it is already copyrighted to me in the United States until 70 years after my death and that is whether or not I add a copyright symbol or any marks at all.

Registering your copyright is all they do there and it probably makes it easier in the case you would ever have to fight an infringement lawsuit, but it also can get rather costly. If you keep records and original files of your work I think you can easily prove that it belongs to you in the case you ever need to.

You would have to check into the price and then decide if you think the risk of stolen art is worth it.

I have no idea what other artists and designers do. Maybe some will chime in.


Posted: Tuesday, October 08, 2019 8:13:13 PM
Unpublished is 55 bucks for 10 pieces and published is 35 bucks for 1, according to them. But whether something is unpublished or published is really difficult to determine, depending on the situation. The lawyer I spoke to said even she was confused, and she's a copyright lawyer. The people at the Copyright Office said they are not supposed to tell you if it is published or unpublished and that it's up to me to determine. But then two people tried to nudge me to unpublished and one person tried to nudge me to published. I wrote down the Copyright's Office definition of published and unpublished, which can get a little confusing if you have displayed your stuff before. The lawyer told me she would charge me 75 dollars to read the definition, and what I wrote about my situation. She said it would be 75 dollars for 15 minutes of her time.
Posted: Tuesday, October 08, 2019 9:55:53 PM
Sharon Lee Hudson wrote:
Unpublished is 55 bucks for 10 pieces and published is 35 bucks for 1, according to them. But whether something is unpublished or published is really difficult to determine, depending on the situation. The lawyer I spoke to said even she was confused, and she's a copyright lawyer. The people at the Copyright Office said they are not supposed to tell you if it is published or unpublished and that it's up to me to determine. But then two people tried to nudge me to unpublished and one person tried to nudge me to published. I wrote down the Copyright's Office definition of published and unpublished, which can get a little confusing if you have displayed your stuff before. The lawyer told me she would charge me 75 dollars to read the definition, and what I wrote about my situation. She said it would be 75 dollars for 15 minutes of her time.


What kind of craziness is that? That’s enough to make me run the other way.
Posted: Wednesday, October 09, 2019 1:32:55 AM
A copyright lawyer who couldn’t answer a basic copyright question?

My take on it is that, unless we expect to make a bundle of money on an image, enough to afford paying a lawyer to help in lawsuits, it’s not worth it.
Posted: Wednesday, October 09, 2019 2:22:07 AM
It is a loose loose proposition. You need a timely registration in order to claim statutory damages and get your expenses in lawsuit refunded and against places like teespring it may actually help and could make you a killing. It doesn't help against amazon and the army of Asian pirates. By the time I know that the design is so popular that it will be copied left and right the grace period of 90 days has long passed. If I register every single one I spent more money on registration fees that I make with any sales.

If I'd knew that they all will be stolen by organizations profitable to sue I'd be happy to sue, but lately any successful registration has to be done a year in advance to satisfy the high court and that is simply ridiculous.

Sure I have many designs that are timeless, but I have a hard time to have them sitting in a folder and not publish them.

And again even if I wait until the certificate is issued, nobody gives me a guarantee that the investment in to those fees is worth it. As a European I can sue without registration. But the only reason I consider registration is the ability to get your expenses refunded, which is in many cases the only way to cost effective defend your copyrights.

As long as foreigners can sail unscathed under the umbrella of safe harbor on sites like amazon, it is in anyway only a half measure to protect your art and to defend it to the full extend.

I'm still waiting to benefit from the registration that I did make. So far I lost money on the one that I registered unpublished.

I hate US copyright law since it is a toothless paper tiger without the registration and with the registration a busy print on demand designer is likely to significantly reduce his income and may never benefit in any noteworthy fashion.

Loose loose.
Sad
Posted: Wednesday, October 09, 2019 3:04:23 AM
The lawyer told me if the work is unpublished and you register with the Copyright Office, and you win in court, you can get all your fees taken care of. If it's published and you register, you have to prove you were in possession of the art before the person stole it and you don't get court costs paid for. She also said, you also have to register within 3 months of the creation of it.

The lawyer gave me a different definition for published that is not on the Copyright Office's website. I asked her that if you don't know if your work is published or not, can you just do it as published (since it's the more expensive one, I wouldn't be taking any money away from the Copyright Office and I would bear the burden of high fees). The lawyer did not address that exact question. She said thought, that if someone stole my stuff, I can send a "cease and desist" letter.

After she quoted a price of 75 dollars for 15 minutes, I told her she only has to read about 15 sentences, but she did not change the price. I wrote it down because my situation is confusing.

My mom has the money to pay for all of my work to be register, even if it is published. But I now have to decide if I want to burden her....I never want to burden her...still I Have to think about things. I've been holding back for months because of this issue. I'm tired of holding back, but I'm trying to put thought into this to protect myself.
Posted: Wednesday, October 09, 2019 3:05:55 AM
"without three months" was changed to "within 3 months."
Posted: Wednesday, October 09, 2019 4:49:06 AM
Something to keep in mind is if the person that steals your image is in another country, like China, you won’t be taking them to.court.
Posted: Wednesday, October 09, 2019 4:57:16 AM
Maz wrote:
Something to keep in mind is if the person that steals your image is in another country, like China, you won’t be taking them to.court.

Sharon, that’s where most of the stealing occurs, so you may have to make the choice that Vivendulies refers to as do most of us: Take our chances for the sake of selling. Otherwise, we end up with a lot of pretty pictures in a portfolio or on a computer where they grow old and unloved.
Posted: Wednesday, October 09, 2019 7:40:33 AM
Sharon Lee Hudson wrote:
The lawyer told me if the work is unpublished and you register with the Copyright Office, and you win in court, you can get all your fees taken care of. If it's published and you register, you have to prove you were in possession of the art before the person stole it and you don't get court costs paid for. She also said, you also have to register within 3 months of the creation of it.


According to the copyright office you have a grace period of 3 month or 90 days to register published work and if your work is not infringed until the certificate is issued, your registration protects you the same as register an unpublished work.

Much of my work is created within the zazzle designer. It can be argued that even a hidden item is published since we hand over license rights to zazzle. So there is no way to register those works unpublished.

I'm sure you misunderstood the part of registering published work. The 90 days grace period to register published work is there to give you the ability to claim the same rights as with unpublished works, which includes piling court costs onto your damage claim and get a refund if the court decides in your favor.

No matter if registered published or unpublished if the other side can prove you copied the work and not vice versa, the registration will not help. So in the end it is still the decision of the court if push comes to shove.

You can register published work and have the same protection in regards of cost of your attorney, but with the latest changes and the high court decision a high volume print on demand artist with an income of $10 per design on average and even $0 on some creations and only a few designs that actually bring in $100 and more some even several thousand dollars, spending $55 per ten design and have them out of commission for up to a year is money lost esp. if 70% of your design volume won't bring in the investment of the registration another 10% and more will take years before the fee is paid for the registration. It is an exception that a design takes off from day one and usually those are stolen by Asian pirates just as quickly.

As mentioned before ... loose loose.

If you register you better hope your work is stolen by someone who can afford it and makes you a killing to compensate for all the loss registration cost you.
·△·


Posted: Wednesday, October 09, 2019 7:58:39 AM
It is definitely not artist friendly. Just a big money making racket if you ask me and I am not going to help line their pockets with my money. I will take my chances.

Posted: Thursday, October 10, 2019 1:16:51 AM
No. Waste of money and not really needed nor really that killer in the case of. As soon as you create something, it's automatically copyrighted and in the case of disputes, you usually should have enough evidence (such as raw copies, drafts, layered originals) to get your rights. Registering helps mostly to be able to sue for your legal and other fees. What doesn't help much, if the infringing party sits in China or another non-Western country, what will be in probably 95% of the cases.

Sit down, start to design and publish. And if one day you create something really amazing that sells awesomely, you may want to protect it with a trademark registration, what's way more efficient than a copyright one. The Coca Cola bottle shape is trademarked, so are the VW Beetle and Bully shapes, to make 2 examples.
Posted: Thursday, October 10, 2019 3:50:53 AM
It’s my understanding that copyright is used for a single creation, while trademark is used for a business design used in the act of selling.
Posted: Thursday, October 10, 2019 5:28:25 AM
PetsDreamlands wrote:
No. Waste of money and not really needed nor really that killer in the case of. As soon as you create something, it's automatically copyrighted and in the case of disputes, you usually should have enough evidence (such as raw copies, drafts, layered originals) to get your rights. Registering helps mostly to be able to sue for your legal and other fees. What doesn't help much, if the infringing party sits in China or another non-Western country, what will be in probably 95% of the cases.

Sit down, start to design and publish. And if one day you create something really amazing that sells awesomely, you may want to protect it with a trademark registration, what's way more efficient than a copyright one. The Coca Cola bottle shape is trademarked, so are the VW Beetle and Bully shapes, to make 2 examples.


Colorwash wrote:
It’s my understanding that copyright is used for a single creation, while trademark is used for a business design used in the act of selling.


US copyright works slightly different as does how who pays the attorney than in many European countries.

You can't effectively defend you copyright when the cost of the defense exceeds the cost of any damages you may be able to claim. Hence the need for a timely registration.

Because trademark deals with origin of business ventures most trademark laws exclude decoration from trademark registration. Register a shirt decoration therefor can backfire as an invalid trademark and you get for your troubles is the costs.

Those trademarks in bad faith highly depend on the bad faith friendly courts.

3D trademarks for the coca cola bottle and the vw van are very much a matter of origin and hence trademarks. But when it comes to using these trademarks on a t-shirt you may very well find sympathetic judges who rule in favor of the artist. In the case of coca cola and VW fighting the is more a matter of inequality of the war chest fight for your right to use the cola bottle on a t-shirt in an illustration. In most cases people don't mistake the cola bottle or the VW bus on a t-shirt for a trademark but see it as what it is a piece of art on a T-shirt and as such not a violation of the trademark.

Unfortunately there are way too many corrupt judges, which is why you better avoid the subject on a t-shirt.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯






Posted: Thursday, October 10, 2019 3:30:35 PM
The question isn't really should/shouldn't you do it, but rather - how likely are you to want to go to court to fight a copyright thief? If you're shocked at the cost of just getting the official copyright done, well, I'm gonna say - not highly likely.

How unique will your images be? If you had a character series or something you might want to think about it. If you're a painter or photographer, you already have the built-in added protection of possessing original raw art/files. But if you're just typical clip art images with some wording added, that's not exactly unique.

So without knowing anything about your particular design images or your biz acumen or social media expertise level, it's difficult to guess how important it would be to get them officially registered. Only you can decide that.
Posted: Thursday, October 10, 2019 6:10:57 PM
chefcateringbizcards wrote:
But if you're just typical clip art images with some wording added, that's not exactly unique.


Not exactly an issue.
USCO registered image:



chefcateringbizcards wrote:
The question isn't really should/shouldn't you do it, but rather - how likely are you to want to go to court to fight a copyright thief? If you're shocked at the cost of just getting the official copyright done, well, I'm gonna say - not highly likely.


Not exactly the reality. Many US infringer will react to a registration by complying swiftly to a license fee demand in fear to add litigation costs. While when you're not registered they even reply with bad faith counter notes.
Posted: Friday, October 11, 2019 7:07:14 AM
I actually created all my designs on my computer. I am concerned about the raw art thing. I was going to copy my files and put them on a flash drive and then destroy all files on computer because they take up too much space. Maybe I'll keep the small versions of them that I use in my portfolio. You've all have given me a lot to think about. I'm waiting for this other lawyer to get back to me now. Thanks a bunch.
Posted: Friday, October 11, 2019 7:37:09 AM
Sharon Lee Hudson wrote:
I actually created all my designs on my computer. I am concerned about the raw art thing. I was going to copy my files and put them on a flash drive and then destroy all files on computer because they take up too much space. Maybe I'll keep the small versions of them that I use in my portfolio. You've all have given me a lot to think about. I'm waiting for this other lawyer to get back to me now. Thanks a bunch.


They really should be in two locations, just in case one location fails.

I use a a terabyte external drive (far more space than those little flash drives and only 60-80$) and an SD card (attaches to laptop but is still external).

I have nothing officially files with copyright office because as chefcateringbizcards says, that only comes into play if you are taking somebody to court.


What I have had to do is provide raw files to Amazon to prove I was the creator of an image when I filed a take-down notice about a stolen image of mine on their site. They did take it down and no formal copyright filed by a lawyer was needed.
Posted: Friday, October 11, 2019 2:29:13 PM
·▽·

When I learned of the USCO end of 2014, almost all of my work was published longer than 90 days so no point in registering. In 2016 I send a DMCA to Etsy and received a counter notice. I wrote back that I first published it on spreadshirt. This person claimed she bought a license from a trustworthy source. Well she didn't she bought it from a thief. But if I had registered it despite them being past 90 days I believe she would have taken it down.

I had trouble finding an attorney and once one said okay I thought it goes it way but it didn't. The attorney decided the etsy shop owner was not rich enough. So He didn't follow up and didn't inform me, that nothing will happen.

I since have all my most stolen designs registered in a poster collage. So the next time I receive a counter notice I can send back the registration number to scare the fraudster.

The registration is not just for court. It is for pressuring US thieves not to mess with your art.

Because I could only register these designs long after those 90 days, the registration isn't helping with court. That I can without registration because I'm European, but it helps with those who buy cliparts from unreliable sources, to take the infringement down.

·△·
Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2019 5:33:10 AM
Hmmm. Poster College. That is really interesting. So, you pay one fee but there are many designs. Very interesting. Thanks.
Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2019 9:07:06 AM
Sharon Lee Hudson wrote:
The lawyer told me if the work is unpublished and you register with the Copyright Office, and you win in court, you can get all your fees taken care of. If it's published and you register, you have to prove you were in possession of the art before the person stole it and you don't get court costs paid for. She also said, you also have to register within 3 months of the creation of it.


that's not right, I've sued about five times now and every case settled before even going to court and each case was taken on contingency, I paid nothing until the case settled then they just took their share from the settlement

you do not have to register within 3 months of publication or creation to get the full benefit of registration - you just have to register before the infringement begins

here is the official info

"When registration is made prior to infringement or within three months after publication of a work, a copyright owner is eligible for statutory damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs. https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf"





Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2019 9:19:28 AM

published vs unpublished

was the work ever offered for sale or was it display only with no option to buy?

if it was display only then was it a pre-showing to possible buyers letting them know that they could buy it later?


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