Friday, July 9, 2021

Copyrighting Your Movie

Original Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash
Dear Rich: I need to copyright my new film. On-screen, I put “copyright 2021" along with a fictitious name. The name is not a recognized legal entity; it's a name for my business. I wonder if I can file copyright officially under my real name but somehow acknowledge the fictitious name without all the shenanigans of making the name a legal entity. Or can I use the fictitious name even though it’s not an official company? 
If you plan on using a fictitious name (also referred to as a DBA), you should check with your county clerk as to how to register a fictitious business name (or you can use one of the many DBA registration services online). The purpose of registering is so that the public can determine who owns a business. Most states only require sole proprietorships or partnerships to register if the fictitious business name does not include the names of the owners. If you're a sole proprietor (single business owner) and you are using a fictitious business name, you shouldn't have a problem registering the copyright. (This circular explains the basics for registering film.) When you file, list your real name as the copyright claimant (the owner of the copyright). 
What if a copyright examiner sees that the owner listed on the notice differs from the owner named in the application? Explain that you used a DBA (and furnish proof of registration, if necessary).
FYI - If you are using a pseudonym, review your options before filing. 
PS You have copyright without filing registering; it's automatic.

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