Discussion Board

Topic: Copyright issues

From: Kingsley Yin
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ
Date: 02/05/2008

Dear Greg,

Haven't been on for a long time. I have a question concerning copyright which I think you may be able to answer relatively quickly. If one writes and publishes a short story, how does one then go on to "use" that same short story to write a novel without infringing copyright. I know its your own work but after publishing the short story, copyright belongs to the publisher doesn't it? I am asking because you managed this in your Blood Music short story and novel. I must be missing something in my obtuse thinking but I can't think of what.

Kingsley

Re: Copyright issues

From: Greg Bear
Date: 02/05/2008

Hello, Kingsley! Each work you create, even if related to another work, has its own copyright protection, which you can then enhance by filing for copyright. Without filing, you still have protection, though when you publish a book or story, formal protection is usually obtained as the publisher will file and copyright the book or story. If it's not a work-for-hire project, the copyright will be in your name.

Re: Copyright issues

From: Kingsley Yin
Location: Cherry Hill, Nj
Date: 02/06/2008

Thank you for your kind and prompt response. As you probably well aware, the situation is completely different in Science, where copyright for any publication is transferred to publisher. I believe that this procedure is to prevent researchers from making multiple publications from a single piece of work. There may be other reasons but I think this is the most obvious.
Thank you again.

Re: Copyright issues

From: Greg Bear
Date: 02/07/2008

Both SCIENCE and NATURE use a work-for-hire contract for most of their pieces. They will, however, let you post your own papers and distribute for scientific/educational purposes.

Re: Copyright issues

From: Jerry Sager
Location: Santa Rosa, CA
Date: 05/01/2008

What is actually considered copyright protected? Basic plot?
Charaters? Ideas? Many ideals in my 1996 novel are hauntingly simular to the Battle Star Gallactica series as are a few of the characters. I don't know if the fact that I wrote this novel and my ideas are unfolding as I have watched each season is causing paranoia, or if someone else had all the same visions I had and a bank roll and huge writing staff to put them on the TV screen. Coincidence, infringement or writers paranoia? If the final clone turns out to be the cigarette smoking ship doctor then I am 100% certain I was ripped off!

Re: Copyright issues

From: Greg Bear
Date: 05/07/2008

Copyright generally protects the overall structure and plot of a work. Substantial similarity of plot and character can be grounds for an infringement suit; but truthfully, suits have been filed on all sorts of grounds. Ideas generally are not protected, but certain kinds of ideas often lead to plot similarities--which can lead to trouble. Mood and look and feel can also be protected, based on legal precedent--but not always. Characters receive some protection, in context--within the plot--and you probably shouldn't name your fighter pilot Luke Skywalker, since there is additional protection in trademarks. Remember--anyone can sue for any reason. Winning is another matter!

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