Archive for the 'Publishing Law' Category

Jan 30 2012

U.S. and Marvel Agree: Mutants Are Not Humans (At Least For Tax Purposes)

Published by under Publishing Law

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

Toys classified as “dolls” face import taxes twice as high as other toys do. Dolls are toys that are (only) humans, as opposed to, say, teddy bears. In 2003, Marvel successfully convinced the U.S. Court of International Trade that mutant action figures are not actually humans, even the ones that look human (e.g. Professor X).


PS: Biologically speaking, Marvel mutants probably count as the same species as humans.  If two organisms can have fertile offspring, they are (biologically speaking) part of the same species.

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Oct 25 2010

Pet Peeve: “This story has been copyrighted…”

I would highly recommend against including a copyright notice when you submit a story to a publisher or review group.

1.  It’s totally unnecessary. “Copyright notices have never been required on unpublished works.”  Also, stories are automatically covered by copyright as soon as they are written, so we already know it’s protected.

2. It suggests the author is somewhat paranoid. If your ideas/manuscript impressed a publisher enough that the publisher would actually want to use them, it’d be much easier and more professional to hire you than to give the ideas to someone else.

3. It indicates the author holds the reader/publisher in low regard. If you are so uneasy about the professionalism of a publisher or a review group that you feel the need to tell them it’s illegal to steal your ideas, don’t submit there!

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Aug 14 2010

What Authors Should Know About Copyright (and Defeating Plagiarists)

1.  What do I need to do to copyright my work?
Nothing, if you’re an American, Australian, BrazilianBritish, Canadian or Irish author. Your work is automatically protected by copyright as soon as you write it. You don’t need to register your work or do anything else to copyright it.


However, if you wish to sue somebody for copyright infringement, you’ll probably need to pay a small fee to register your copyright with your national copyright office first ($35 in the United States).  I’d recommend leaving that to your publisher, because suing somebody is almost always impractical before you get published.  There are more cost-effective ways of defending your work and/or dealing with plagiarism than spending thousands of dollars on a lawyer.

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