Friday, November 14, 2014

Why Can't I Copyright a Character?

Dear Rich: I want to copyright a character from a graphic novel that I wrote. I've already copyrighted the graphic novel. How do I copyright just the character? When you say you've copyrighted your graphic novel, we assume you mean that you registered the work with the Copyright Office. However, according to the Copyright Office Compendium, the Copyright Office won't register characters. That doesn't mean you can't stop others from copying your character as depicted in the graphic novel. As you'll see from perusing character standards, you may have already achieved copyright protection for your character. Also, if you create a series of graphic novels with the character in the title, or use the character on merchandise or in connection with services, you can seek trademark registration for the character's name and appearance.
BTW Dept. The Copyright Office doesn't grant copyrights; that occurs automatically. Think of the Copyright Office like the County Recorder's office ... a place where you record your copyright claim.