This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration

March 7, 2014

Protecting your copyrights

There's an old saying that goes, *plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery*. So, if someone has gone to the trouble of stealing your photos, or your artwork, or your writing, or whatever, you can take it as a compliment. Of course, if your living depends on controlling the copyright, you may want to do more.

Personally, I don't make my money by reselling my cartoons. I make my money by creating them. And since, in my entire career, only one client has ever asked me to sign a document releasing copyright for the cartoons that I did for them, I legally own copyrights on all of the cartoons that I've drawn in my career, with the exception of those drawn while in the course of my employment, at Blue Cross of California, and Bank One Arizona. And, of course, the one client who paid extra to get copyright.

Copyright is a legal thing. And that includes, you guessed it, lawyers. So while you may think you know all about copyright, there are a few lawyers out there, who studied the law, and practice it, who will probably disagree with you. So, if you want to protect your copyright, you will need to spend some money, and time. Copyright law is like any other law, it's not determined by what someone's brother-in-law once said, it's written down. As law.

I've seen my cartoons everywhere. They first started appearing in ads, especially in the yellow pages, in the Phoenix area, in the 1980s. And from there, they spread. Like I said, I'm not in the business of reselling cartoons, I am in the business of creating them, so every time I would see one, I would consider it free advertising.

And, no, contrary to popular belief, just using *privacy settings* won't protect you on the web. If you want to discourage people from reposting your stuff, be sure to write a copyright notice on it, and file it with the Library of Congress. You don't need a lawyer to file copyright, but you will need one to go to court. And that lawyer will ask you if you filed for copyright. If your answer is, *huh?* don't be surprised if you lose.

Please don't start talking about copyright to me, unless you are the best copyright lawyer in town. In which case, thank you again for coming to my classes every semester for so many years. You taught me, and my students, a lot. And mostly I learned to respect something as important as copyright, and leave it in the hands of the experts.

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