By Ted Bergeron ⋅ April 15, 2012 ⋅ Post a comment

"I am not a lawyer", but here’s what I’ve heard.

In the USA as soon as you create a work, it is yours and generally accepted that you are reserving your rights. Place "© 2012 Your Name" on your work to give notice of your copyright.

In the past a strategy was to send a copy of your work to yourself via registered mail and never open the envelope until you needed to defend your copyright in a court of law.

My understanding is that by registering your copyright with the US Government, all you are doing is creating an official time-stamp on your work. That date that you registered your work will have a greater legal weight in a court of law.

But here’s the kicker. Your copyright notice and whether or not you have registered it with the US Government does not prevent anyone from stealing your work. What it does to is enable you to defend your rights in a court of law. You still have to hire a lawyer and go to court and take the proper steps to get the thief to cease and desist and more action to sue them for damages.

You can send in a whole stack of your comics and copyright the whole lot with one $35 registration fee. So if it gives you peace of mind, it’s pretty cheap. And it’s kinda cool to get a copy of your registration back from the government with their stamp on it.

I’m making comics for fun and just want to share them. I would be upset if someone stole my characters and tried to profit from them. But I’m not worried about it. I’d be flattered if someone made some fan art using them!

Just sketch your own characters

Now that Disney has acquired Marvel, the Disney lawyers are going around comic cons and slapping cease and desist on any artist that is trying to sell sketches of Marvel characters for money. So some of the voices in the industry are saying, 'just sketch your own characters' … I think that is a great idea. I think it mostly concerns famous artists that formerly worked for Marvel and fans know them for their work on those Marvel characters… and they don’t have any original characters.