I am an artist who would like to own the rights to all of my work, however I am not sure the correct term to use. Do I trademark myself? Copyright myself as a brand via my name? Any advice would help, as I need direction.
I'm sure I could fill a room with the questions I have, and I would like to know what that should cost to have done for me legally? Fees and such? Ball park.
5 Answers from Attorneys
I would suggest that you contact the local bar association who can refer you to an attorney in your area that can answer all of your questions. You certainly can copyright your work. But not knowing what you do or what you have done and what type of contracts you have signed in the past it is hard to give you good advice here.
Obtain a local attorney. Build a relationship with that attorney because it isn't just a matter of trademarking your name and copyrighting your work, it is the ability to have an attorney help you when someone steals your work or likeness.
You automatically own the copyright to your own work, unless you make it for your employer or under certain types of commission. Then it would qualify as a "work made for hire", and the rights would belong to whoever you were working for. You can learn more about works made for hire at http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ09.pdf.
But owning a copyright is not the same thing as enforcing it. You might unintentionally lost some or all of your rights. You might also have a hard time proving what those rights are if you don't take some precautions.
You should consult with a copyright lawyer about how best to protect your rights. Copyright law is complicated, and this site cannot give you as much information and guidance as you could get from consulting with an attorney.
Basically, when an independent artist (not employed as a company artist) produces artwork, he or she has a so-called "common law" copyright in the work produced. This is of limited protective value; in order to sue an infringer, you'd need a copyright obtained via filing an application with the U.S. Copyright Office. You may wish to have a conference with a lawyer specializing in "intellectual property" (patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets), but as a first step I'd suggest checking Amazon or a local bookstore for paperback self-help books on copyright law and procedures. Nolo Press is one publisher; look for "The Copyright Handbook" by attorney Stephen Fishman. It is slanted towards authors, but still should be useful.
There is a variety of ways you can protect yourself beyond what can be discussed on this board. Feel free to contact our office for a free consultation.
Related Questions & Answers
Does California BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONS CODE 13411 mean that I can't give a... Asked 6/06/13, 7:08 pm in United States California Business Law
My boyfriend's grandfather is getting a divorce from his wife. The wife is a... Asked 6/06/13, 7:16 am in United States California Business Law
I have a partner in business. He has had a bankruptcy two years ago. We are getting... Asked 6/04/13, 4:00 pm in United States California Business Law
I am a sales person. I had been instructed by my manager (by email) to inform my... Asked 6/04/13, 12:12 am in United States California Business Law
If my corporation is suspended from doing business in California, is it also... Asked 6/03/13, 6:41 pm in United States California Business Law