If you are considering writing comics professionally you may be worried about your work being stolen by others. Equally, given the sources that have inspired you, you may be worried about stealing from others. Here’s some items on the subject, which I hope you’ll find useful. Some of the material is based on a news group posting by Bernie Corbett, General Secretary of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, which he very kindly gave me permission to reproduce on here.
Copyright protects any artistic or literary work that is recorded in any way. Whatever you write or draw is automatically copyright is yours – automatically, legally, inalienably etc. – as the writer/author/artist of the item in question. There is no such thing as paying for copyright in your own work.
Copyright is automatic whenever you write or record a piece of work (in the UK — it is different in the US and elsewhere). Music is copyright, and there are other rights relating to musical works and performances. If you whistle a tune in the street and somebody copies it, there isn’t anything you can do. But if you write it down in musical notation it is protected by copyright. If you tape-record your whistling the music is also protected by copyright and in addition there are rights attaching to your performance.
Protecting your rights is not straightforward. It is expensive to bring a case to court and difficult to prove your case to the satisfaction of a judge or jury. So it better to have a clear idea of what your rights are, and how best to avoid trouble. There are several good books available on the subject and any serious professional writer should read one of them.
Registration of Copyright
Registration of copyright is very different, and is important only when you need to prove it, for any reason.
Incidentally, if you’re a screenwriter, the Screenwriters (UK and USA) Guild offer a copyright protection service.
In the US, the easiest way to register copyright is just to use the US Copyright office.
It cost about $20, but the good thing is you can copyright a collection of works at the same time for the same fee.