Copyright Conversation

To round out this week chock full of discussion posts, and because my girl Linda expressed interest in wanting to know more, I want to talk a bit about copyright laws and how they differ from trademarks which I discussed yesterday.

To start, this is the copyright symbol:

©

We’ve all seen it and some of us even use it for some of the content we posts in our blogs. The official definition as defined by the United States Government is as follows:

Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works.

So, what does this mean? It means that if you create an original work, whether it’s published or not, it’s still copyrighted. This applies to poetry, music, books, songs, software, movies… the list goes on. The term you’re most likely familiar with is called intellectual property and means it is protected under law. Now, the list of things that are able to be copyrighted are pretty much a form of art right; as in it’s some form of artistic expression. For example, all 300+ of my blog posts are my forms of artistic expression right? So that means all my stuff is automatically copyrighted right?

If you answered right, you’d be wrong. Sorry to break it to you but copyright does not protect ideas, concepts, theories, symbols, phrases, facts and other similar things along those lines. This means that even though I typed up some pretty cool life stories or suggested some ideas on my blog, I can’t claim official copyright and if someone decided to copy pasta my post and call it their own, there’s nothing I can do about it besides ask them nicely to take it down and hope for the best. Domain names are not even protected under copyright law so all our WordPress names we so cleverly came up? Not covered even though they are original.

Now, I know what you’re thinking here. Did I not just say original authorship works whether published or unpublished are automatically copyrighted? Well, yes I did but a post published on a website is considered an original idea, not an original work even if its stories or a logo design you made, it can be duplicated on someone else’s website without consequences. Logo designs actually can be protected but that falls under trademark territory as does words and phrases but it’s a process to get that certificate; as mentioned in the previous post. Copyright law can’t help with that.

However, there is a bit of a silver lining where copyright on websites are concerned. If you post a lot of photos or a compilation of serials, you can file to have the page on which these appear on copyrighted. But remember, even if you just use the symbol and someone comes along and steals your work, you can fight them if and only if you file for a copyright certificate or have already obtained one. Otherwise, you’re a bit SOL to put it simply.

When a copyright is filed, the information becomes public record. It also means the hard copy you sent becomes the property of the United States Government. They do not give it back so if you want to file for copyright, make sure it’s your best version. This also means that you filed the application, paid the fee, it was approved, you got your certificate and the whole country knows that that piece of art belongs to you. If someone would like to use it or reference it in their own piece of expression, they have to get permission to do so and once a copyright is public record, so is information like your name, phone number and address which makes it easy for an individual to try and get said permission. You can file for a copyright under a pseudonym and use a different address such as a post office box if you don’t want your personal details out in the world. This is what a lot of authors do when they copyright their books.

So remember when you see the little © symbol in a book, it only applies to the content on the inside. The book cover, title and logo are not copyrighted. Those fall under trademark laws. In the case of the cockygate author, her content is most likely copyrighted but her cover art, the title and logos of her book are not. She filed for a trademark for the word “cocky” and, as I said in yesterday’s post, you can trademark a word or phrase while your application is pending using the  symbol but it’s not official until you get a certificate of registration in the mail showing the ® symbol.

Generally, anyone can file for a trademark or a copyright but remember, this is not an automatic approval process. You really need to show sound reasoning or, in the case of copyrights, physical copies of your work in order to get even a sliver of consideration.  My mother sees trademark applications come across her desk everyday and she said it can take literal years to get a trademark whereas hard copies of original works are a bit easier to wade through. And yes, to reiterate again, words in the dictionary can be trademarked to a certain extent (example: apple is trademarked) but you’d have to be really convincing to get approved.

Isn’t the law just a boat load of fun?

I hope you all enjoyed all the educational posts this week. Hope it wasn’t too much of an overload and hey! tomorrow we get to see some fun stuff cause it’s TGIF or Facebook Friday around these parts and I’ve got at least one share guaranteed to make you laugh.

What do you think about copyright law? Does it make you want to copyright some of your own works? Let me know in the comments below!

(Source: CopyrightGov)

Common Trademarked Words

Since I got such an overwhelming response to my post yesterday (THANK YOU!) I thought I’d do a follow up post on what it means to trademark something and share common, every day words/items that you probably didn’t know are trademarked.

I was explaining the author story to my mom and she actually gave me a bit of insight in how the process works. A trademark is basically a brand on a product created by an individual or they’re using it in a different way that it won’t effect the original defintion of a word. For example, Kit Kat is a trademark with Hershey as it’s a popular chocolate candy. However, Google was able to use Kit Kat as a trademark as well because for them it had a secondary meaning not related to chocolate candy when they decided to name their OS (operating system) after it. It’s probably a given that they got permission to do so from Hershey as well.

**EDIT** Thanks to a comment made by fellow blogger Shalini I felt I should add to this post. She asked if words in the dictionary can be trademarked. The short answer is yes but again it goes back to how the word is being used. The best example is the world “apple”. In the dictionary, an apple is a round red fruit…. etc. However, the company that mass produces your Iphones has trademarked the word Apple (with a capital) and this is allowed because it does not infringe upon the original meaning of the word. ****

The cost of a trademark usually varies by state and can be anywhere between $100-$200 dollars. If your application to register a trademark gets approved then you are able to use your trademark in that state and sue anyone who uses it without express permission. Now if you want your trademark to be national, it’ll cost a bit more; up to $400 and you have to renew it every ten years for it to be valid. Even if you have a registered trademark, depending on the changing of the seasons, i.e. culture and society changes, if your trademark becomes something that is a commonly used saying or reference, it is possible for a party to fight you on said trademark on the grounds that it’s more generic now than it was before. It all depends really.

There are two main symbols used to indicate a trademark:

  • means that a trademark has been filed but it’s not registered yet. An application has been filed or will be filed.
  • ® means that a trademark application has been filed and accepted and you received a certificate of registration.

There’s also the © but that has to do with copyright and is something I can get into in a different post if you all are interested.

Anyway, here are some examples of common words that are currently trademarked that we use all the time and the generic terms a different party has to use if they produce the same product:

  • BandAid is registered by Johnson & Johnson Company. The generic phrase you can use to describe something similar is self-adhesive bandage
  • Bubble Wrap is registered by Sealed Air Corporation. The generic phrase you can  use to describe something similar is packing material
  • Crock-Pot is registered by Sun-Beam Products. The generic phrase you can use to describe something similar is slow cooker
  • Google is registered by Google, Inc. The generic phrase you can use to describe something similar (even though we say Google it all the time) is search engine.
    • As an aside here, if you ever watch a movie and see them using a search engine that looks like YouTube or Google but is named something else, this is why.
  • Super Hero (two words) is registered by DC Comics Partnership and Marvel Characters, Inc. The generic phrase you can use to describe a hero not in these worlds is superhero (one word)
    • As you can see, two companies can register the same word but because the characters are in two different universes that will never overlap, it’s allowed.
  • Popsicle is registered by Conopco, Inc. The generic phrase you can use to describe a similar frozen treat is ice pop

So these are just a few examples. I could go on cause there are a ton and it can even get into commonly used conversational phrases as well but maybe I will save that for another post. I hope you all enjoyed this post and feel free to ask questions or share trademark examples you know of in the comments below.

(Source: RD)

Liebster Award

 

Okay, I’m a slacker. I’ve been nominated for this award twice! Thank you to the spectacular James, who I’ve nominated for plenty awards, because I love reading his 365 challenge posts! He’s such a great guy and is so engaging with his blogging audience. Do check out his site. I also would like to thank Renata whose site you should also click on because she’s a strong woman who speaks the absolute truths as well as things she’s learned through her own experiences.

The rules of this award:

  1. Acknowledge the blog who nominated you and display the award.
  2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger gives you.
  3. Give 11 random facts about yourself.
  4. Nominate 11 blogs (tough call, yikes!)
  5. Notify those blogs of the nomination.
  6. Give them 11 questions to answer.

Grab your popcorn here because I have 22 questions to answer!

James’ questions:

What made you start blogging?
It was a random idea between M and I since we were no longer working together

What are the primary content areas on your site?
Most probably my everyday stories and the In Danger installments

What other languages can you speak, read or write?
I can bumble my way through Spanish. Took 2 years in high school and keep my skills brushed up with Speak Tribe app and a friend of mine who’s fluent

Which color best describes your choice in books?
I don’t even know. I’m a colorful person so my books are colorful as well!

What is your favorite of the 7 deadly sins, and why?
I’m going to go with Lust here only because in Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, Lust was portrayed as a woman who would lead alchemists down her desired path but as the show progressed she desired to become human and ended up helping the brothers.

What other job would you want to have?
Beta reader

What foods can’t you stomach no matter how hard you try? (You must have tried it before)
Bananas and kiwi

What zoo animal would you most want as a pet?
If we’re being realistic, none; but if I had the means, elephant and fennec fox

Who do you live with?
My husband, 2 cats and Turtle

Describe the perfect book.
I can’t because there is no such thing for a girl with my crazy imagination

Which blog that you follow is your must-read every day? Only 1!
The Reader because I look forward to everybody’s posts and technically its one concentrated blog looking place to do so. 😛


Renata’s questions:

How long has writing been a part of your life?
Blog writing has been apart of my life for the last three months but back in high school I loved to write and would take all the writing courses I could; creative writing, poetry writing, Shakespearean writing and even research paper writing

What’s your favorite dish?
Pasta or sushi or soup or waffles… I love food. I can’t have a favorite!

What do you like the most about where you live?
That my state is shaped like a pointy heart! I also love that we have fifteen seasons. The weatherman is always wrong.

Can you describe social media using 2 adjectives? (gotcha there)
supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and self-evolved

Have you volunteered anywhere or would you like to? Where?
Yes. I’ve worked in two wildlife rehabilitation facilities in Ohio and an endangered bird breeding propagation program in Maui. I would love to participate in some type of sea turtle conservation with multiple flotation devices strapped to my body so I don’t drown trying to save the beasties 🙂

What movie ending do you hate the most?
So this is an old film but Spitfire Grill has the worst ending!

Can you tell me one stereotype associated to your country?
Black people always associated with fried chicken and watermelon. I suppose it implies our slavery roots in that they were both cheap and it was finger food so we looked like animals eating it, which was our place in society…. Stereotypes suck.

What’s your favorite song?
Oh geez. I need a new question. I love music! Lately its been songs with the word “run”. Run to You – Pentatonix, Run to You – Whitney Houston, Run – Leona Lewis, Runaway – Ed Sheeran, Run the World (Girls) – Beyonce

Would you accept an invitation to become a writer based on your blog posts?
If said person extending this invitation thinks I’m that awesome, then yeah!

What’s your top self-care activity?
My hair. It’s a process and a half to detangle and style it because salons cost money and I haven’t been in a salon that is able to handle my mane (besides straightening it because that’s boring). Most of my hairstyle ideas come from naturalistas on Youtube!

What’s something you love about humanity?
How different we are from one another and the technologies we’ve develop that make it possible to learn about and grow with each other and our surroundings.


And now 11 more facts about me because I’m just full of them:

  • I played the flute, saxophone and baritone in elementary/middle school
  • I got my first pair of glasses when I was in 4th grade and didn’t want to wear them for the longest time because I thought I looked like Harry Potter
  • I am Groot
  • I am a tech nerd. Currently teaching myself a few programming languages
  • I’m on the review team for a favorite author of mine
  • I love blueberries and blueberry flavored things
  • I’ve had Netflix since 2009 when it was $5 a month and you got DVDs in the mail
  • I’ve written a post everyday this month except May 1st because of birthday shenanigans
  • I love anime. If you have not seen Cowboy Bebop or Howl’s Moving Castle, you are seriously missing out on fantastic worlds
  • I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was 20 which is pretty rare for kids in America who usually get their permit as soon as they turn 16
  • I am a ginormous classic Disney fan. I collect them on VHS and can recite most of them word for word, song for song. (HAKUNA MATATA, what a wonderful phrase!)

My Questions that are not philosophical, or you can choose to answer the ones above:

  1. If you could have one date with any celebrity, who would it be and why?
  2. King’s Landing or King Arthur’s Court?
  3. Which is cooler: dinosaurs or dragons? (that’s a trick question just sayin’)
  4. Have you ever seen a double rainbow?
  5. Would you choose to fly like a bird and roam the sky or swim like a whale and roam the deep sea?
  6. What’s your favorite Disney movie and why?
  7. If you had the means to invent something, what would it be?
  8. Why did you choose WordPress as your blogging platform instead of say Blogger or Wix?
  9. What’s the one thing that makes you smile every single day?
  10. If you could live in a book world, which one would it be and why?
  11. Do you like pina coladas? (I may or may not be humming in my head)

Coming up with 11 questions was tough! Now 11 nominations?? I’m going to cheat and just pick the last few people who commented on the blog somewhere:

Avid Observer
Theorangutanlibrarian
Poetic Bliss
Mr. Mel
Mainepaperpusher
Cimmeriansentiment
Everydaystrange
Nemo
Nashra
Cherylene
Updownflight

Congrats to the nominees! Participate if you want however don’t feel obligated to do so. If anyone else would like to participate, I nominate you too and feel free to answer right in the comments section below!