Great question. The idea that you are asking this sort of question suggests that you are in the business of writing–not every writer is. Business is important to writers, but often they do not like to think about the business side of creativity. You are thinking about business and that indicates that you have a good chance at making significant money from your creative craft. Part of being in business is protecting your intellectual properties. Before you decide how to best protect your tagline, you need to talk to a lawyer who handles this kind of specialized legal business and can explain the difference between copyrights, trademarks, and patents. Before you talk to that qualified lawyer, you need to gather your information together. The process of gathering your information together will help you find the path you should follow. When you find a potential lawyer, that legal professional will want for you to provide a solid overview of your business concern.
Find the answers to the following questions and you will have a better meet-and-greet with the lawyer during your first consultation.
Your lawyer will ask you these questions:
Here are questions for you to ask the lawyer:
This is above my pay grade. You might want to ask an entertainment lawyer. The person I asked suggested it might be a trademark situation.
US copyright law does not cover tag lines. Short phrases or sentences are not considered original creative work as that would run the risk of actually copyrighting a phrase or word common in the English language. Just imagine what you’d have to pay Nike every time you told your kids to ‘just do it’. And how would anyone enforce that anyway? Maybe big brother has that many eyes but individuals don’t.
You can Trade Mark a tag line. Marketers often do. Be sure you can live with a TM beside your tag line. It’s not something I’ve ever seen but I think it would strike me as officious and send an odd message. Writing is a creative effort as well as a business effort but I don’t want to see overt signs of business in my reading for pleasure choices. Besides, a Trade Mark requires mountains of paperwork and the near impossibility of enforcement.
In my 30+ year career, I have never worried about plagiarism. Most working authors don’t need to plagiarize your work, they have plenty of their own to worry about. New authors have their own ideas and probably will think they are on a better track with their own ideas. Keep your nose to the grindstone, listen to solid critiques and move forward.
Jenny is still on vacation time. She be back next month with The Extra Squeeze Team.
It is never wrong to take precautions with your work. My best suggestion for preventing plagiarism at the critique stage of the writing process is simple. Don’t share your work with people who have not been vetted in some way to earn your trust. If you doubt the integrity of the people that you are sharing your material with, their opinions about your writing should also be in question. If you have any qualms that your ideas could be stolen by the circle of people you willingly handed your work over to, then tighten your circle. Your work is your business. In any business, great ideas can be at risk of idea theft. Copyrights, trademarks, and non-disclosure agreements all exist to help enforce your rights. Look into those options. But realize that in the critique stage, prevention is a more powerful tool than policing the issue after it happens.
And, on the flip side, protect yourself. Accusations of idea theft or plagiarism is a two-way street. In a critique group, it is important to understand the parameters of collaboration. You may be asking other people to give you their opinions and contribute their ideas to your unfinished piece, but that also has limits that need to be established and clearly understood. It is possible that in a critique setting, your work may be the catalyst for a bigger and better idea than you imagined. If that bigger and better idea comes to light and is identified by someone, it is important to know how to properly handle that situation. It all starts with trusting who is at the table and taking the time to establish and understand the game rules before any of your work is read by anyone.
This genuinely is worth considering as ideas get stolen all the time (paranoid, me??). Sometimes plagiarism is not even committed consciously by the perpetrator. We absorb sentences and word structures and ideas all the time as we move through life, so it’s inevitable that we will reproduce bits and pieces of these when we get creative. If you’re sharing your work with a fellow creative, it should be accepted that you are going to influence them at least a little bit. If they churn out whole chunks of an original work or copy an entire plot without acknowledgement, it is quite different.
First, I’d advise using only people you trust to do your first run of read-throughs and critiques. If they’re your friends, they might not be as tough on your work, slightly biased etc., but it’s better than nothing at all. After that, there are copyright registration places if you live in the UK, but they are pointless in my opinion (we do not have a copyright office here – the US does). They won’t act for you legally if someone steals your work, and will take a small fee to register a copy of your work on the date you submit it. But if you have the raw, dated file stored on your computer, then you can just as easily prove you are the owner of the original work anyway. The law is different between the UK and USA, and elsewhere, so it is worth looking into copyright before you share your work with anyone.
A Slice of Orange is an affiliate with some of the booksellers listed on this website, including Barnes & Nobel, Books A Million, iBooks, Kobo, and Smashwords. This means A Slice of Orange may earn a small advertising fee from sales made through the links used on this website. There are reminders of these affiliate links on the pages for individual books.
When a cruel and evil wizard threatens Olivia and her wedding plans you may be surprised to see who steps in to save the day.More info →